Necropsy finds no explanation for shot moose’s odd behavior
A necropsy on the moose killed by a state wildlife biologist in the Wilmington Notch last September didn’t find any health ailments to explain its behavior.
“Nothing to explain the abnormal behavior of this moose was found,” wrote state Department of Environmental Conservation Joe Okoniewski, who works with the state’s wildlife pathology unit in Delmar.
Okoniewski did note that brainworm could have been present in the lowest part of the spinal cord, which was not dissected. He also said that the possibility of “missing one in the brain, although unlikely, cannot be discounted.”
The fact sheet that accompanied the necropsy stated, “An infection of the central nervous system with brainworm, a common parasitic nematode of deer, can cause moose to have difficulties moving and is often fatal to moose.”
The killing of the 2-year-old, 674-pound male moose by a DEC wildlife biologist on Sept. 26 drew criticism from some members of the public who thought that moose should be left alone or relocated. There was even a small protest of about a half-dozen people a few days after the moose was shot.
The moose was killed after it was seen in the same spot in the West Branch of the AuSable River for several days in a row. During that time, it attracted a lot of attention from passing motorists, photographers and members of the public.
After several days, DEC wildlife biologists determined that the moose was unhealthy and unable to get out of the deep gorge on its own.
Ray Brook-based DEC Wildlife Manager Lance Durfey, who authorized putting the moose down, said at the time that he didn’t want to kill the moose but felt that was the best course of action, considering the circumstances.
“The moose was floundering and unable to consistently stand,” Durfey said. “Its posture was abnormal. It was hunched in the back end, and it was obviously in a distressed state, and it seemed pretty obvious at that point that euthanization was the best course of action for the moose.”
The necropsy did find “an abnormal amount of fluid in the joints of the lower legs and damage to the liver by liver flukes were found during the examination,” according to the fact sheet. The cause of the fluid buildup was not found or believed to be a serious problem.
The fact sheet said the liver flukes would have eventually killed the animal.
The necropsy was finalized on Feb. 5.