To protect the lives of people and wildlife, MassWildlife and the Environmental Police formed an interagency Large Animal Response Team (LART) to respond to situations where moose are discovered in heavily human populated areas. The team members consist of MassWildlife biologists and Environmental Police Officers with specific training in chemical immobilization of large animals, primarily moose and bear. Municipalities and other law enforcement agencies can activate this team by calling the 24 hour Environmental Police Radio Room at 1-800-632-8075 or calling the closest MassWildlife offices during business hours.
Depending on the situation, members of the team will provide anything from technical advice to responding to the scene. If it's determined the LAR Team needs to be at the scene, members will be paged and they will coordinate efforts with local/state police, animal control officers, MassHighways and local public works departments to ensure safety for the public as well as the animal involved.
Moose in Residential Areas
Having no natural predators in Massachusetts and being protected by law from hunting, moose are unwary as they move through populated areas. During the mating season this indifference is magnified by the "tunnel-vision" created by the urge to reproduce. Spring yearlings are also known to appear in densely populated areas, having followed waterways or forests into the heart of an urban center. People should never try to approach or pursue a moose if one should show up in the neighborhood. Leave the animal alone and call the Environmental Police or MassWildlife if the moose is in a highly populated area. Usually the moose found its way into the situation and will likely find its way out if given the chance especially in semi-suburban and rural areas.
There are 4 options available to wildlife professionals when dealing with suburban or urban moose situations.
- Keeping tabs on the animal from a distance, or "baby-sitting" as it is sometimes called, is often all that is needed to allow the moose to move on. Usually the job becomes more public relations than public safety as officers try to keep people away from the moose.
- Trying to encourage the moose to go in a specific direction by using hazing techniques.
- If the animal becomes cornered and can be confined to an area, chemical immobilants may be used if the situation warrants this action. Trained staff from MassWildlife and/or the Environmental Police will be on hand to exercise this option.
- The last resort, when an immediate threat to public safety exists, is to destroy the moose with a firearm.
Local and State Police Departments
If a moose is sighted in town, advise callers to leave the animal alone. Remind pet owners to keep their dogs under control. Keep crowds away and avoid following the animal. Pursuit not only stresses the animal but it adds the risk of having a moose chased out into traffic or into a group of bystanders. In most situations, the animal will fade back into the forest. If your situation involves a moose in a densely populated area, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room (24 hours) or the nearest MassWildlife office on week days during business hours to activate the Large Animal Response (LAR) Team. Team members will be paged through the Radio Room and will contact your department to assess the situation. See below for useful actions to take regarding urban/suburban moose incidents.
MassWildlife District Offices and Westboro Field Headquarters
Call weekdays between 7:30 AM- 4:30PM. If there is no staff person available, contact the Environmental Police Radio Room.
Environmental Police Radio Room
Call 1- 800-632-8075 or 617-727-6398. This facility is staffed 24 hours/day. Call this number during weekends, holidays and non-business hours if there is a moose situation in your town. Dispatchers will page members of the LAR Team.
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