A young moose spent nearly two months hanging out in a Billings neighborhood before it was euthanized Thursday by state wildlife agents. Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks officials explained the decision to euthanize the moose.
Robbie Seykora, acting public information officer for the Billings-based region 5 of the agency, said Friday that FWP had hoped to avoid killing the animal, but biologists were worried about the spread of disease from the moose, which was visibly struggling to walk.
“When we start getting into, ‘Why didn’t the zoo take it?’ or, ‘Why didn’t we do this?’, with new laws that passed with (Chronic Wasting Disease) and the spread of disease, it’s very hard to transfer a cervid, a cervid being a member of the deer animal. Deer, moose, elk, things like that. So it becomes very difficult legally to do that,” Seykora said. “With the spread of disease, it has made it tough to make that happen, is the real answer. It just wasn’t a possibility."
Seykora added that the state didn't bring the moose to a wildlife rehabilitation center out of concerns that it could spread disease to other animals and threaten wildlife populations.
Seykora says the moose has been taken to the Wildlife Health Lab in Bozeman for a full necropsy, which is an animal autopsy. Results should be ready within three to four weeks.
“Obviously not a decision that we like either. I think it came to a conclusion nobody wanted. We wanted to give the moose every opportunity to leave town on its own," Seykora explains.
Here's a timeline of the moose's activities in town.
OCTOBER 8: Laura Porter spots a young bull moose in a field near the Zoo Drive exit off Interstate 90. She tells Q2 she wasn't sure what the animal was at first glance.
"I came over that hill coming towards the Zoo Drive exit, and I saw this big black thing in the field. I thought this has got to be either a cow or a bear, but it was so big."
OCTOBER 13: The moose moves into the area of 15th Street West and Avenue D where security video at the Alliance Resource Center shows the moose run past a man sitting on a bench. The moose can be seen passing within inches of the man, who was unaware of the large animal until it nearly ran into him.
The moose "comes up between these trees, kind of does a roundabout here, a loop,” said Sue Bailey, the center's director. “He looked around this way and then he went right through that space with the bench and the light post. He fit right through there and continued down the sidewalk we think until about halfway through the parking lot, headed out that way, went right past our bus and down the sidewalk."
OCTOBER 25: The moose settles into a north-central Billings neighborhood, concerning some residents.
“We’d really like him to be transported to an area where he’s safe, and everyone else will be safe after he ages,” one resident said.
OCTOBER 31: It's trick-or-treat time for the moose. The moose remains in the same general residential area over Halloween, causing some concern for young children who might encounter the large animal while out trick or treating.
"With kids and people in the neighborhood, that moose could get upset about anything and then end up hurting somebody," one resident said.
Some residents also say the moose appears to have been injured.
NOVEMBER 11: The moose has been in town for a month, and wildlife officials say they are satisfied that he poses little threat and are hoping the animal will leave town on his own.
“He has access to food and water. Again, it's a wild animal. We are hoping that that injury heals and that he's able to leave town,” FWP spokeswoman Chrissy Webb said.
NOVEMBER 28: A resident captures concerning video of the moose. The animal looks like it is struggling to walk. “The poor thing, you know, you look out your window and there’s this moose crawling,” the resident said.
State wildlife officials begin closely monitoring the moose, but one official said animals have incredible abilities to overcome adversity “as long as they’re still mobile.”
But at least one resident wondered if the animal will be capable of leaving town on its own, which had been FWP’s hope since day one. “Pretty soon he’s going to end up dead back here.”
DECEMBER 1: State wildlife officials announce they have euthanized the moose. The moose was in poor health and struggled to walk, wildlife officials said.
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