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Moose mania

by Nick Rotunno
| December 20, 2010 8:00 PM

photo

A young moose wandered into Charles Haddy's yard in Hayden, and stayed for a week.

The moose was only a calf, probably six or seven months old, but the little lady could throw her weight around.

She would run through Charles Haddy’s yard, long-legged, full of youthful energy, kicking at the swing or pretending to charge. Sometimes, Haddy said, it was like she was practicing karate moves.

“I grew up in Alaska, and I’ve never seen things like this,” he added. “It was amazing stuff.”

The calf showed up on Dec. 4 or 5. She liked the apple trees at 11910 N. Government Way in Hayden, and decided to stay. For several days she was very comfortable.

“That thing just did not stop eating,” Haddy said. “The amazing thing is that it stayed there for over a week.”

He snapped pictures of the moose, and videotaped her entertaining behavior. Haddy plans to create a documentary-style film about the calf, he said.

Officials from Idaho Fish and Game arrived on Tuesday, tranquilized the moose and brought her to a safe place, far from civilization. According to Mark Rhodes, an IDFG district conservation officer, moose can be dangerous when pressured or trapped. The forest is where they belong.

“Having a moose in town can be novel and interesting, but only for a short time,” Rhodes wrote in a press release. “They incite neighborhood dogs. They surprise people heading to the newspaper box. They cause problems with traffic.”

So far this winter, IDFG has only removed one moose (the calf from Haddy’s yard) from a residential area, Rhodes said. Five or six others have been reported in Coeur d’Alene, however, and moved away on their own. The animals are attracted to ornamental and native plants, Rhodes said. They especially like fruit trees.

“Once they get into town, they find that it’s just awful easy to find food,” he said. “It’s hard to get them to leave. They’re not real picky. They’ll eat most anything you have planted in the yard.”

LaDonna Donnell of Coeur d’Alene was surprised to find three moose — one cow and two calves — in her backyard at 3110 N. 6th Street. The critters came by around 11 p.m. last Sunday, Donnell said, and didn’t leave until Monday afternoon.

“It was a moose with two babies, and the babies were the size of large deer that come in my yard, like bucks,” she said. “(The cow) stood in my neighbor’s yard behind the shed, and looked over at me.”

The adult moose was huge, Donnell said. A tall and graceful creature, she could step right over the four-foot cyclone fence in the yard, and her youngsters — two uncommonly healthy calves, IDFG said — could easily jump the barrier. Donnell named the trio “Isabelle and the twins.”

“We’ve had deer. We’ve never had moose before,” she said. “I think they just felt comfortable back there. They had to go through a lot of homes to get to my house.”

Coeur d’Alene residents Jim and Linda Barnett, who live at 3116 N. 6th Street, also spotted a cow and two calves on Monday — almost certainly the same moose Donnell had been watching. The cow surprised Linda, who shouted, “There’s a moose in the backyard!”

The animals were pretty relaxed, Jim said. They munched on raspberries and lilacs, eventually moving to the front yard, up the driveway and out the cul-de-sac. The Barnetts wisely gave the moose a wide berth.

“They were just milling around,” Jim said. “They weren’t in any hurry.”

Instead of using a tranquilizer dart, IDFG prefers to let the moose wander off. The tranquilizer drugs are hard on the moose’s system, Rhodes wrote, and can sometimes be fatal. Once the moose is down, it takes a number of people to move the animal to a horse trailer; the process is time-consuming and difficult.

Rhodes offered some advice for people who encounter moose in town.

“A moose that feels threatened can be a danger to people,” he wrote. “Keep your distance, keep something substantial between you and the moose, and leave it alone.”

If the moose has been given some time to leave, and does not, call the IDFG Regional Office, 769-1414.

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