To the editor:
The letters are already starting to pour into the mainstream media sympathizing with the moose that was shot yesterday in Burlington. Before anybody sheds any tears though, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind.
More than any other the reason the moose was dispatched because it was a threat to human life. Primarily, it was a traffic hazard. Routinely across Vermont, New Hampshire, New York and Maine motorists are maimed and killed in moose/vehicle collisions. The streets in the vicinity of the incident are some of the busiest roads in Vermont -- and not the typical place where motorists would be on the lookout for an 800-pound animal. It wasn't that long ago that a 30 year old Milton woman was killed by a moose on I-89 near Colchester in this manner leaving her two children without a mother. In Maine, it is almost a weekly occurrence.
Tranquilizing was not a viable option. Recently in Alaska a moose charged a helicopter after it had been shot with a tranquilizer by a biologist. It was maimed by the tail rotors and almost caused the pilot and biologist serious injury/death. Biologists there have learned the hard way there that helicopters are the safest way to tranquilize moose due to the unpredictable nature of the moose while the tranquilizer is taking effecta process that requires about four minutes. If this happens in the remote regions of Alaska, what could have been the consequences in Burlington?
Wardens with the Fish and Wildlife Department exercised every precaution necessary. There was a "prompt" burst of gunfire which some media criticized because three wardens fired simultaneously with buckshot to ensure the animal would be immediately dispatched. Extreme caution was taken to ensure no harm could come from a stray BB. The meat was immediately processed and delivered to a local charity.