Sep 26, 2013
09:48 AM
Connecticut Today

The Big Wildlife Story in Connecticut? Moose 'on the Loose'

The Big Wildlife Story in Connecticut? Moose 'on the Loose'

A moose on the campus of Westminster School in Simsbury earlier this year.

On Wednesday morning, a moose turned up in what seemed like a very unlikely place—New Britian.

The animal was euthanized, because, according to a statement from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), “It was causing an imminent danger to public safety by repeatedly crossing the highway leaving us no choice but to euthanize it.”

The moose was a 2- to 3-year-old male, and weighed about 500 pounds, a story published by the New Haven Register online said.

A day earlier, on Tuesday, accoding to The Litchfield County Times, there was a report of a moose wandering through the parking lot of the New Milford Hospital at approximately 7:20 a.m.

"We located the moose in the parking lot," Lt. Larry Ash of the New Milford Police Department told the County Times in an email.

Police stopped traffic in the area of East Street, Elm Street, Church Street and Whittlesey Avenue and directed the moose in an easterly direction into some woods, Ash told the paper, noting that the last known direction of travel of the moose was toward Second Hill Road.

Moose sightings may seem like a novelty—as well as a danger—but a story published in June in the Farmington Valley Times made it clear that Connecticut has a resident population of moose.

"While there are moose who inhabit the Farmington Valley, the largest concentration of them reside in Hartland and Barkhamsted where the habitat is best suited for them," DEEP wildlife biologist Andy Labonte told the paper, saying that moose prefer “regenerating forests with young, succulent undergrowth.” The animals can eat between 40 and 50 pounds of food per day, so they need to live in an area where vegetation is abundant.

Each spring, as moose move through the birthing season, older moose move out on their own to search for a new habitat, Labonte said. Moose will travel long distances to find a location where they will spend the rest of their lives. Labonte explained that moose will sometimes bypass suitable habitats for no particular reason, eventually settling within some 10 to 20 square mile radius.

While seeking out greener pastures, these mostly solitary creatures can find themselves in urban centers and populated areas.

“They don’t know what’s ahead of them,” said Labonte. It is these unusual sightings in the Farmington Valley that prompt phone calls to DEEP or the local police departments. The large majority of sightings are made through the spring, the birthing season, and the fall, the breeding season, when moose also tend to travel far distances to mate.

The occasional run-in between moose and cars are to be expected during these highly trafficked times of year. However, Labonte said car versus moose collisions are rather rare. This year, there have been two reports of car accidents involving a moose. Labonte said DEEP officials never actually saw one animal. In 2012, there were two accidents involving moose recorded.

“There have only been 26 reports of moose-vehicle incidents since we started tracking,” said Labonte, which was back in 1996.

The DEEP has a moose fact sheet on its website—along with a moose coloring page (above).

 

The Big Wildlife Story in Connecticut? Moose 'on the Loose'

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