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Moose calf narrowly survives Shoshone River crossing attempt

A cow moose and her calf attempt to cross the North Fork of the Shoshone River Friday from the island where the calf was born. Mom and baby returned to the island after the calf was swept downstream and nearly drowned. A cow moose and her calf attempt to cross the North Fork of the Shoshone River Friday from the island where the calf was born. Mom and baby returned to the island after the calf was swept downstream and nearly drowned. Photo courtesy J.L. ‘Woody’ Wooden

After giving birth earlier on an island in the North Fork of the Shoshone River, a cow moose began crossing the river for a bite to eat on Friday.

But near-disaster soon struck. Her calf got into deep water, panicked, turned into the fast-moving water and was swept away. Photographer J.L. “Woody” Wooden witnessed the incident.

“As it rapidly moved down the river, I thought this would be the end,” Wooden said. “However, the calf was thrown against the snag and pulled under the water. I knew it was over then, but a moment or two later, the little red head rose up in the brown muddy water.

“It was able to get some footing and get out of the river,” he said. “Mom took awhile, but she found the calf and got it back to the larger island.”

The cow and calf still were on the island on Saturday morning, Wooden said.

The narrow island of rocks and willow is about one-quarter mile east of Elephant Head Lodge on the south side of U.S. Highway 14-16-20, west of Cody, said Powell photographer Neale Blank.

Wooden said this cow typically goes to the island to give birth, probably to be safer from predators.

“The thing she didn’t know was this is a high-water year,” Wooden said.

Wooden said he didn’t see a calf last year, and he believes this may be her first in a few years.

“I hope he survives,” Wooden said.

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