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Time to Move Along, Mr. Moose

Mar 09, 2019 09:03AM ● By Editor
This bull moose -- whose antlers had dropped -- was escorted to safer surroundings after hanging out along a highway east of Middle River, Minn., where DNR authorities feared potential safety risks to motorists. Photo:  Minnesota DNR

By Staff Reports from The Grand Forks Herald - March 7 2019 

Trying to get a moose to cooperate is easier said than done, but a bull moose that was posing a potential danger to motorists along Marshall County Highway 6 east of Middle River, Minn., now is in safer cover, thanks to a bit of prompting from Department of Natural Resources personnel.

Wildlife managers at Thief Lake Wildlife Management Area and Ben Huener, a DNR conservation officer from Roseau, Minn., conducted the “moose drive” Tuesday afternoon, said Kyle Arola, manager of Thief Lake WMA.

The bull moose, which had dropped its antlers for the winter, had spent the past few days browsing in a 20-acre woodlot on the south side of Highway 6 between Thief Lake to the north and Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge to the south, Arola said.

Apparently, the bull found the red osier dogwood bushes in the woodlot to his liking.”

“We got a couple of reports about this moose being seen on the road at night, and it’s obviously a safety concern if people are out driving at night and all of a sudden they roll up on this big, dark animal,” said Arola, who called Huener for assistance in steering the moose to safer surroundings.

Looking at Google Earth, they came up with a plan to shoo the moose out of the woodlot and south to Agassiz refuge, where there’d be less danger both for motorists and for the moose. While Arola and Huener walked into the north end of the woods on snowshoes, two DNR trucks staged on a gravel road along the east side of the woods in hopes of keeping the moose on a southbound course.

“We were hoping, ‘Well, OK, we’ll walk into the woods, and the moose will come out on the south side, and it will go right down to Agassiz,’ ” Arola said.

And that’s exactly what the moose did -- with a little encouragement from the honking horn of one of the trucks parked on the road.

“The moose was basically in a perfect spot,” Arola said. “It just worked out perfect.”

The bull appeared alert and didn’t show any signs of brainworm or other disease, Arola said. The process of flushing the moose out of the woodlot and escorting it to new digs took half an hour to 40 minutes, he said.

“The longest part of it was Ben and I trudging through that woodlot on snowshoes,” Arola said. “We have 23 inches of snow on the ground so that was the toughest part.”

The “moose drive” was the closest he’d ever been to a moose, Arola said.

“The size of them is just incredible,” he said. “Just a big, big animal.”