Injured Moose Causes Country-Wide Debate Regarding U.S. Wildlife Intervention

May 26, 2014 06:38 AM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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A moose was found in pain from an open wound where its tail should have been in Minnesota recently. Wildlife experts determined that it was as a result of a wolf attack, and left it alone.

Officials did step in on behalf of a baby eagle with a broken wing, whose nest was a part of a video feed broadcasted to tens of thousands of people all over the world.

These types of cases in Minnesota highlight a huge issues that's common elsewhere throughout the United States: when to let nature take its course and when to intervene.

"It depends on the circumstances in each case, and often it depends on how man has affected the situation," said Doug Inkley, a senior scientist with the National Wildlife Federation, according to the Associated Press.

Though every animal is needed to maintain genetic diversity, Inkley and other biologists prefer deferring to nature's wisdom, though intervention can occur with endangered species, or when humans caused the issue.

Yellowstone National Park spokeswoman Amy Bartlett said park officials "rarely intervene." The only case she could remember was when a grizzly bear was struck by a car several years ago.

They tried saving the bear because of its "protected status," but the bear died, according to AP.

Officials with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced a "hands-off" policy when they went live with an EagleCam this spring.

The Minnesota EagleCam gained a huge online audience as three eaglets hatched, though soon after it became clear that one chick was having issues.

Eagle-watchers demanded action by posting a number of complaints on the Nongame Wildlife Program's Facebook page. Calls were also made to the governor's office as well, which caused officials to pluck the eaglet from its nest.

"Social media had a big impact on our decision-making process," said Lori Naumann, the program's spokeswoman, according to the AP report. "My phone blew up. My email blew up. It started with a little bit of concern and then it just grew into almost violence. I had to delete a few posts and block some people from our page."

The eaglet was then taken to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota, where vets determined it had a systemic infection and a broken wing. They were forced to euthanize it after determining it had no chance of surviving in the wild or living pain-free in captivity.

Over 90 percent of all birds that the center has treated were injured as a result of "some interaction with the human-altered landscape," executive director Julia Ponder said, according to the Associated Press. 

She noted that treatment decisions depended on the bird's prognosis for returning to the wild.

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