A moose that led conservation officers on a chase throughout Winnipeg earlier this month died during the attempts to relocate it, and a local biologist is criticizing the use of tranquilizers in its capture.
The moose was in Winnipeg for two days as police and conservation officers worked to round it up. The moose was not yet full grown, though it was still very large and quite quick, at one point running into the Red River and swimming across to evade officers.
Eventually, officials managed to surround it in a field and shot it three times with a tranquilizer. But after running around in the heat for two days, the tranquilizer was too much for the moose’s system, and it passed away during transport.
“Probably what happened to this animal is it just overheated and succumbed to that,” said Vince Crichton, a certified wildlife biologist and former manager of problem wildlife for Manitoba Conservation. “They said they shot it three times with a dart. Well, did they give it three doses? That likely compounded the issue. And that’s what, a combination of too much drug and the heat, resulted in it dying.”
The Winnipeg Police said that they considered the animal a public danger, and would have been willing to put it down if they were unable to capture it. Crichton, however, disagrees that the animal posed a risk to humans. “That’s nonsense. It’s not going to charge anybody.”
He said that the officers should have simply focused on keeping the moose away from people and let it calm down, then tranquilized it when it wasn’t in a state of high stress. “I would never drug animals [in the heat] . . . you don’t do it with daytime temperatures like that,” he said.
While moose rarely make their way into Winnipeg, Crichton said it’s not unheard of, particularly when young males go out looking for a mate.