Wandering moose creates a stir in Amherst, prompts tweets from Amherst College President Biddy Martin

Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2014

AMHERST — A moose wandering from South Amherst toward town center Thursday morning ended up outside the Amherst College president’s home before being tranquilized and removed from the campus about three hours later.

The 800-pound female moose, which college President Biddy Martin photographed and used her Twitter account to inform the public about, ran around the Woodside Avenue neighborhood and the campus and briefly held up cars and pedestrians on South Pleasant and several side streets.

Martin’s tweet around 11:30 a.m. showed an image of the moose outside her South Pleasant Street home with the text: “Never a dull moment at Amherst College. This morning, an unusual presence in my yard.”

Ralph Taylor, district manager for the Connecticut Valley Wildlife District of MassWildlife, estimated the animal to be around 18 months old. He said spring is a time when moose are forced out from their winter habitat, especially young moose.

“This is very common for a young moose that’s looking for a new home range,” Taylor said.

Animal Welfare Officer Carol Hepburn said she first observed the moose at Bramble Hill Farm on South Pleasant Street at 7:30 a.m. The moose then headed toward Woodside Avenue, where several residents reported it crossing their yards.

College spokeswoman Caroline Hanna said the moose was in the area of the Cadigan Center on Woodside around 10:30 a.m. and got the president’s house an hour later.

After pursuing the moose most of the morning until it got into a fenced-in area at the president’s home, Hepburn called environmental police to respond and remove the large animal. Before they could do so, though, the moose left the yard, crossed South Pleasant and got onto the main campus, but later returned to the president’s home.

Taylor said he spent more than two hours working with the town, college and environmental police to get control over the roads and keep people safe.

Those responding initially tried to “haze” the animal, which means forcing it back into a natural habitat, but when they realized they couldn’t do so safely, they opted to chemically immobilize the moose.

Taylor said the moose was placed in a truck and was being taken to an undisclosed location in the western part of the district and out of the urban setting. When it awakes, it will again roam around, but do so in a better habitat.

The moose was carrying about 400 ticks but was otherwise in good shape, Taylor said. The moose shouldn’t feel any ill effects from the tranquilizer.

“So far it’s a successful outing,” Taylor said.

Because of the use of the tranquilizer, a yellow tag will be attached to the moose, reading “do not consume.” Though Massachusetts doesn’t have moose hunting season, the animal could venture into Vermont or New Hampshire, where those hunting seasons exist.


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