© MassWildlife/Bill ByrneA cow moose and young calves munching on stump sprouts in a Massachsuetts forest.
WORCESTER, MA - April 28, 2018, was a bad day for moose in Massachusetts.
In Tyringham, police hazed a young female who was threatening traffic along busy Monterey Road. At the same time 70 miles east in Westminster, a homeowner along Sunset Road was dealing with a dead 450-pound moose in a swimming pool. Not far south, in Rutland, local police carried out the grisly task of euthanizing a moose that had been hit by a car along Route 122A.
These are just three of hundreds of moose incidents - including sightings, injuries and deaths - that state Environmental Police have logged over the past four years. Patch obtained public records documenting moose interactions with humans after three of the massive ungulates appeared in Worcester in October.
A majority of the human-moose interactions occurred west of I-495, although there were some notable exceptions, like the one seen several times in Belmont in 2016 and another spotted at a Canton school in 2018.
In many cases, moose-human interactions end in the animal's death - after being hit by vehicles or being euthanized. Out of 223 Environmental Police reports Patch examined, 100 detailed the death of the moose. Forty-five of those involved car collisions, and 30 were deaths due to euthanasia - although some were shot due to parasites like brain worm and winter tick.
Moose-human interactions have risen steadily in recent decades, state wildlife experts said. Moose had been hunted to near-extinction in Massachusetts during the colonial era and the 19th century, but after the state began to regulate hunting in the early 1900s, their population began to rebound.
"It was a slow progression from Maine to New Hampshire to Vermont, and then started to show up in Massachusetts in the 1960s and 1970s," said moose biologist David Stainbrook of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife. "But it wasn't really until the late 1990s and early 2000s that we started having moose year-round." © Provided by PatchThis 2010 photo shows a moose calf in Franconia, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
© Provided by PatchOn Sept. 30, Environmental Police tranquilized a 600-pound moose at a Worcester cemetery.
Massachusetts is at the southern end of the range of New England's moose population, although they sometimes dip into Connecticut. The state's main moose population is clustered in the forests around the Quabbin Reservoir, Stainbrook says. In the map below, you can see how many moose-human interactions happen that area, especially in towns like Rutland, Barre, and Hubbardston.
Moose tend to move at night, which can get them into trouble. A moose that starts walking down a rail corridor or waterway can wind up in an urban area by the time the sun comes up. In the case of the Worcester sightings this fall, Stainbrook believes that a female moose lured two males into the city during the height of breeding season.
One of the Worcester moose was euthanized after he was hit by a car. Euthanasia is often the only solution for a moose who gets hit. A moose with a broken leg is almost impossible to rehabilitate, Stainbrook said - and broken legs are common, since vehicles are level with that part of the animal's body.
"It's the nature of a large wild animal not being able to put weight on its legs when it needs to," he said.
Here's a map of all the moose sightings and deaths based on Environmental Police reports between October 2015 and October 2019. Some locations are approximate because many reports did not list an exact address. Some addresses were redacted.
Stainbrook has also created a map (page 62) showing all moose-vehicle collisions in Massachusetts between 1980 and 2017. The maps shows collisions clustered in an around Gardner along Route 2.
More Massachusetts moose facts, according to biologist David Stainbrook
- Moose love young forest, which means that land cleared for development can be very attractive.
- A typical moose range is about 18 to 20 square-miles, although they will move to different areas depending on the season - they like high elevations and wetlands in summer, for example.
- Moose are typically most dangerous if you're driving a car. Deer are lower to the ground, and so headlights reflect off their eyes, giving drivers some warning of their presence. That's often not the case with taller moose.
- But if you see a moose in the wild while on a hike, they're not typically dangerous. It's best to give them plenty of space - and definitely keep pets away.