Wilmington New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) officials are defending the Sept. 25 killing of an injured moose in the Wilmington Notch.
DEC Regional Wildlife Conservation Manager Lance Durfey said the decision to kill the moose was made after watching the animal suffer for four days. Furthermore, the DEC was following protocol for dealing with moose near busy roadways.
“Certainly euthanizing the moose wasn’t the outcome we wanted or hoped for, but it ended up being the most humane choice for the moose,” Durfey said.
Durfey — who made the decision to shoot the moose — and DEC spokesman Dave Winchell said field staff watched the moose after it was reported on Saturday, Sept. 22 that the moose was spotted in the West Branch of the Ausable River and appeared to be injured.
The moose attracted a lot of human attention during the few days it was there with curious motorists along state Route 86 stopping to watch. Winchell said the increased traffic led to the need for traffic control officers and more dangerous roadway conditions with increased pedestrian and car traffic.
DEC staff tested the moose’s mobility by firing rubber pellets at the moose. The moose moved away from the river and into the woods, only to return on Sunday and remain there until Tuesday when the decision was made to kill it.
“On Tuesday (the moose) was obviously in distress,” Durfey said. “We tried to get it to move again and this time it wouldn’t. Both hind legs were swollen and the animal was floundering, thrashing and unable to stand and it’s limbs were shaky. It was obvious to us the animal wouldn’t be able to recover, and we decided then it was the best to euthanize him and end its suffering.”
Though Winchell said the DEC has not received direct complaints and disagreement from the public, he said a disapproving tone from the community was voiced in local media and social media outlets.