Steve German came to see the Adirondacks' newest unofficial tourist attraction: a young bull moose that had been hanging out in the West Branch of the Ausable River since Saturday.
"You don't see them too much around Connecticut even though they are there, but up here it's something to see," German said.
Unfortunately, he never got a chance to see it. Authorities closed Route 86 through Wilmington Notch Tuesday to euthanize the animal.
"We put it down due to the condition of the moose, its health condition," said Dave Winchell of the N.Y. Department of Environmental Conservation.
The moose first appeared Saturday afternoon. Wildlife officials noticed it appeared to have a leg injury, but it didn't seem to be serious. So they tried to harass it and force it back into the woods by shooting it with paintballs and rubber bullets.
"Originally it moved up into the woods on Saturday, but then came back by the river on Sunday. And since then, none of our actions got it to move at all," Winchell said.
When a technician examined the moose Tuesday afternoon, both of the animal's hind legs were injured and were rapidly swelling.
"Because of its injury it still would have ended up dying. So, we determined moving it would not be any value to the life of the animal," Winchell said.
Another reason for DEC's decision to put the moose down was that it was becoming too much of a tourist attraction along the narrow and windy stretch of Route 86. Dozens of people were getting out of their cars to try to get a glimpse of the moose.
"It was becoming a dangerous situation," Winchell said. "We had a number of near collisions, both between vehicle and vehicle, and vehicle and pedestrian."
Wildlife officials say trying to rescue the animal and bring it to a vet was not an option.
"It's a large animal and it's a dangerous activity to try and move something like that, even with using tranquilizers you run the danger of the animal injuring itself worse or in that case, being that close to the river, it could have drowned before we got to it," Winchell explained.
Nadine McLaughlin traveled from Jay, N.Y., to take a picture of the moose, but she was also too late. The animal lover agrees with the DEC's decision.
"He was injured and in pain, there wasn't a heck of a good life ahead of him anyway," McLaughlin said.
The moose's remains were taken to a state lab to determine the extent of its injuries.
The DEC declined to say how they put the moose down.
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