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A Protest for Peter the Moose

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David Lawrence David Lawrence

Waterbury, Vermont - July 30, 2009

Friends of Peter the moose took their fight to save his life to the street of Waterbury, Thursday. Dozens rallied in front of the Fish and Wildlife Department headquarters.

With their homemade signs and relentless dedication the group of protesters did their best to tell everyone about the plight of Peter. He is a young moose, raised by David Lawrence on an elk preserve in Irasburg. Lawrence found peter when he was just a few days old and nursed him back to health after a dog attack. The state has a law against wild animals living in fenced-in enclosures though, and now the Fish and Wildlife Department says Peter has to go.

Peter could be moved, but he cannot be released into the wild because Fish and Wildlife officials are concerned he could spread chronic wasting disease to the wild herd. They do not know if Peter has the disease but they only test for it requires Peter be killed. It is that threat of death that has supporters most upset.

"When we listen to the commissioner speak about why Peter needed to be removed he used a lot of 'ifs'," said protestor Kayne Strippe. "We want him to live. We want him to stay with David. And he just deserves to be free. He has rights"

Peter's supporters are circulating a petition that asks Governor Jim Douglas to spare his life. Some have also made t-shirts bearing pictures of the young bull, taken during visits to the elk preserve.

"This young man is such a beautiful young guy, you know, and he's still a baby right now," said Donna Underwood-Owens, who describes herself as "The Vermont Animal Whisperer."

Peter's caretaker, Lawrence, says he is overwhelmed by the public support he is getting.

"It's hard to imagine, it's like a fairy tale, it's like a dream," he said while watching the crowd shout chants at cars passing by on Main Street.

The Fish and Wildlife Department is working with Lawrence and the owner of the elk preserve to come up with a solution, not only for Peter, but for other moose and whitetail deer that are in the fence illegally.

Bianca Slota - WCAX News

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