A wild animal has captivated drivers as they travel through a busy stretch of road in Vermont’s Rutland County, but state biologists warned the moose may have to be euthanized. The spectacle is also prompting public safety warnings.
“I'm from Massachusetts, it's my first moose,” said Jim Lanides, who pulled over on Route 103 Wednesday to photograph a moose standing on the side of the road.
In recent days, the female moose has gotten a lot of attention from drivers in Mount Holly. She's been just sort of standing there, ripe for picture-taking.
However, state wildlife biologists told necn she really shouldn't be so unafraid, sluggish, or dazed-acting.
The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife said the animal is sick; infected with what is commonly known as brain worm.
“It’s a sad situation,” Lanides said upon learning of the diagnosis.
Brain worms are parasites moose sometimes pick up from slugs or snail, Fish & Wildlife officials explained.
Over time, the parasites can destroy a moose's nervous system, slowly causing weakness, coordination loss, blindness, or even paralysis.
“It’s very serious,” said Scott Darling of the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, adding that veterinary treatment for a wild animal is not feasible. “Typically, it ends in death.”
Wardens may have to euthanize the Mount Holly moose, Darling added.
“We want to give that moose every chance it has, but if the animal begins to suffer, we need to take that more humane approach,” Darling said.
The Mount Holly moose won't pass its infection to humans, Darling noted, but Fish & Wildlife does want people to behave very cautiously around her.
Warden Tim Carey, who covers the region of the state that includes Mount Holly, asked people to give the moose a lot of distance, and to respect traffic flow on Route 103.
“We don't want anyone putting it into a situation where it might feel threatened and end up doing something by charging someone,” Carey said. “And we really ask that people be very careful exiting and entering traffic here, because the road can be fast through this stretch.”
Carey said some people, thinking they are helping, have attempted to feed the moose. He asked that no one approach the animal closely.
The moose has been spotted on both sides of Route 103. Carey advised that drivers through Mount Holly, between Rutland and Ludlow, should be extra-careful.
Darling said the department will keep monitoring the moose, saying wardens will only move to put the animal down as a compassionate last resort, if her symptoms keep worsening.