The state Department of Environmental Conservation on Tuesday killed a bull moose that had lingered in the Wilmington Notch and drawn much public attention over the past few days.
DEC spokesman Dave Winchell told the Enterprise that his agency assessed the moose and determined it had significant injuries to both of its hind legs and that its condition was deteriorating. It has essentially been in the same spot of the West Branch of the AuSable River since Saturday.
"It is unlikely the moose would have been able to remove itself from the ravine and the animal most likely would have died there," Winchell told the Enterprise in an email. "Removal of the moose while it was alive was unsafe for both the moose and people involved in that activity.
A bull moose stands in the West Branch of the AuSable River Tuesday morning. An orange mark by its eye is from state wildlife officials shooting it with paintballs to try to get it to move to a place with fewer people passing by.
(Photo — Richard Gonyea)
"In addition, the moose created a public safety concern with people and vehicles traveling the narrow road through the Wilmington Notch. The mix of cars stopping in the road, people on foot on the road and moving vehicles with people looking for the moose and not watching the road created unsafe conditions. A number of near collisions have occurred."
Winchell said euthanizing wildlife is always the last resort.
The DEC's decision to kill the animal immediately drew sharp criticism from people making comments on the Enterprise's Facebook page. One woman was so upset by the situation that she is attempting to organize a protest on Saturday at the site where the moose was killed.
The moose's carcass has been transported to the DEC Pathology Laboratory in Delmar, near Albany, for evaluation.