Steve Weber: (603) 271-2461
Liza Poinier: (603) 271-3211
April 29, 2004
CONCORD, N.H. -- In order to address public safety concerns, N.H. Fish and Game officials this morning euthanized a female moose. The 3-year-old moose appeared to be the same one that has been seen, chased, talked about and harassed in urban and suburban settings over the past several days.
According to wildlife biologists with N.H. Fish and Game, the moose's behavior and appearance indicated that it was infected with brainworm, a parasite that is nearly 100 percent fatal to moose but does not affect humans. Steve Weber, chief of Fish and Game's Wildlife Division, said the fact that people were able to routinely approach the moose to within a few feet "was a very serious danger. Even though the moose was sick, it had the ability to strike quickly," resulting in injury or death for the victim.
Lee Perry, director of N.H. Fish and Game, remarked, "We were extremely concerned that this sick moose was not leaving the densely populated Concord area. People were reacting inappropriately to her presence in Penacook and East Concord; if a person had been hurt there, or if she had wandered onto a highway and caused a vehicle collision, the consequences could have been dire." Though officials were reluctant to euthanize the moose, they made the last-resort decision based on the moose's continuing behavior. "This is an aspect of our jobs that we do not enjoy, but which is necessary to protect the public," said Weber.
Moose behavior is extremely unpredictable, even in a healthy animal; a seemingly content moose can turn on a person "in the blink of an eye" when frustrated, startled or for no reason at all, according to Dr. Judy Silverberg, director of wildlife education for Fish and Game. We know from incidents in other states, including one on a college campus in Anchorage, Alaska, a few years back, that people have been trampled and killed by moose -- even moose that are habituated to human activity, even by moose that appear to be calm. No one has been killed by a moose attack in New Hampshire, and Fish and Game staff would like to keep it that way.
If you see a moose or other wild animal in an unexpected place, what should you do? "Stay in your car, take a quick look, continue along your way," said Silverberg. "If you're on foot, watch from a distance and retreat quietly. The wildlife will not benefit from interacting with you, no matter how well-intentioned you may be." Moose give clear signs of aggression and stress: the ruff on a moose's neck stands up, its ears are pinned back and it may take steps backwards. If you see any of these signs, the moose is giving you a warning and you need to get away.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department is the guardian of the state's fish, wildlife and marine resources and their habitats. Visit http://www.wildlife.state.nh.us.
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