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Wildlife authorities continue to support the Billings moose’s “leave on its own” plan

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Billings, Montana – The Billings moose has been living in the city for a month as of the time of this writing, and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks is still letting the animal decide when to go on its own.

“We’re making sure the moose isn’t causing a serious threat to public safety or personal property. That’s really the motivating factor to move forward on your location,” said Chrissy Webb with FWP.

According to Webb, the organization lacks a state process or policy for when it’s appropriate to remove an animal from an urban area. She adds that each choice is made individually.

Bozeman wildlife officials made the decision to tranquilize and relocate a bull moose from a parking area close to a Target store in 2021. He needed eight individuals to be loaded up.

And in 2019, Missoula wildlife wardens relocated a cow moose and her offspring that they had discovered wandering around the city center. For reasons of safety, the streets were closed.

Every move was a success. The Billings moose may have shed his antlers earlier than usual because, as Webb acknowledges, he is probably agitated. The animal also seems to have just sustained a minor wound.

In addition, Webb claims that FWP is not liable if the large animal does turn hostile despite living close to vehicles and people.

“No one is actually liable for what the moose may do,” she said. “And so that’s why we’re really trying to, you know, pound into the people how to responsibly act knowing that there is a wild animal around”

The Humane Society of the United States Dave Pauli commends FWP for their handling of the incident.

“Often times there’s public pressure to just get in there and get that animal. But sometimes that’s the riskiest thing you can do,” he said.

He claims to be confused as to why the animal has persisted for such a long time, but he supports FWP’s slow-moving strategy.

“It may at some point need a nudge,” he said. “But then that has to be a well-planned controlled nudge.”

The state’s largest metropolis can let the moose roam free for the time being, according to Webb. “He has access to food and water. Again, it’s a wild animal. We are hoping that that injury heals and that he’s able to leave town,” she said.

 

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