A moose on the loose in New Britain needed to be shot and killed by environmental conservation police Wednesday morning because they said it posed a threat to the public.
The mammal was spotted as it made its way along East Main Street, West Main Street and Curtis Street before the 500-pound animal crossed over onto the highway.
"We had an unexpected customer," said Joe Tropea, owner of Angelo's Market.
The moose ran across the highway not once, but twice. Because the animal was on the highway, officials from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said it posed a danger to drivers on Route 72, so they needed to shoot and kill it.
"New Britain police informed us that it crossed onto (Route) 72 at least two times, and due to its close proximity to 72 and rush hour, it was an imminent threat and we had to euthanize it," a statement from DEEP read.
Officials said the state's moose population is estimated to be between 100 and 150, and more and more of them are being spotted because it's mating season.
DEEP officials said they were dealing with three moose in total. Recently one was spotted in East Haddam, a second in New Milford and officials said they think the one that died in New Britain was the same one spotted in Farmington.
Officials said they needed to shoot and kill the animal because time was short and the tranquilizing team would have taken too long to get to the scene.
"It's something we don't like to do, but like I said it was less than 100 feet from (Route) 72 and with rush hour, had to take action to protect the public," said Col. Kyle Overturf with the state environmental conservation police.
In addition, it's difficult to tranquilize a moose because of their large size, and because they dissipate most of their body heat through breathing, DEEP officials said. When tranquilized the moose's breathing would have slowed down, causing the animal to overheat.
"Most moose don't survive well through tranquilization and relocation efforts," said Rick Jacobson, who is the director of DEEP wildlife division. "They don't drop immediately where hit with tranquilizer dart, they tend to move and move into traffic, which is cause for concern, and create the very kind of accident we're looking to avoid."
DEEP officials said state police was moving slowly at the time of the incident.
"It would not have been feasible to completely close the road (especially at rush hour) to try and get the moose to leave the area, because that could have taken hours," DEEP officials said.
DEEP officials said they have seen many moose and they are mostly shy animals. However, people are advised to keep their distance from them, especially drivers.
"We generally average two to four moose-car collisions a year, and that's with a population of 100-150," Jacobson said. "Already this year, we had four vehicle crashes and we're entering busy moose season, so there's a greater prospect of potential problems."
The meat from the moose will be given to a program called Hunters for Hungry. The meat packaged and ground up into five-pound parcels will be delivered to meal centers in New London, Stonington and Groton later this week.
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