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Orphaned elk calf rescued by Missoula firefighters battling New Mexico wildfire

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Posted at 5:40 PM, May 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-24 19:40:52-04

MISSOULA — Firefighters with a Missoula Fire Department engine crew helping battle wildfires in New Mexico rescued an orphaned elk calf on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

A post on the Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak Fire Facebook page said the Missoula crew found the elk calf in an area of severely burned forest.

“She was lying quietly in a six-inch deep layer of white ash, surrounded by the blackened remains of fir trees," said firefighter Nate Sink.

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The firefighters observed the calf for an hour to see if the mother returned; they eventually approached and confirmed no adult elk tracks were in the area. Dubbing her "Cinder," the Missoula team sought help for the orphaned calf.

A local veterinarian recommended rehydrating Cinder with a mix of condensed milk and water until specially-formulated milk was available.

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From there, Cinder was transported to the New Mexico Wildlife Center in Espanola, NM to recover. According to the post, she has taken to bottle feeding and is being looked after by a surrogate-mother elk.

The post said Cinder will need to stay at the wildlife center for four months before she is eligible to return to the wild.

The Calf Canyon and Hermits Peak fires started east of Santa Fe, NM in April. The fires have burnt a combined 311,148 acres and are currently at 41 percent containment.