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Moose Relocation Debated in Wake of Deadly Crash

January 01, 2002|From Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — Dangling a moose from a helicopter might seem a drastic form of animal control, but Utah wildlife officials say it's the fastest and easiest way to evict the potentially dangerous animals from populated areas.

Unlike deer and other large animals that also walk along busy roads and into neighborhoods during snowy winters, moose can be picked up and moved because they are hardy and handle the relocation well.

Last week one of the airlifts turned deadly. Three men were killed after their helicopter clipped a power line and crashed into a frozen reservoir. The state Division of Wildlife Resources is debating whether to continue to use helicopters to move moose.

Division spokesman Mark Hadley said the relocation effort became a priority after seven moose were hit and killed by drivers on Interstate 80 in Parleys Canyon during the last month.

"Heavy snowfall has been driving moose down close to I-80. It's always a danger to hit any big game animal, but especially moose because of their size," Hadley said.

During the Winter Olympics in February, electronic signs along the highway will alert drivers if animals are seen near the road. State officials also are considering putting up more warning signs and giving written warnings to Olympic visitors as they pick up rental cars.

Unlike deer and elk, moose appear not to suffer any damage from tranquilizers or being hoisted by helicopter. During an airlift the moose are netted, then blindfolded, tied up and lifted by helicopter to corrals. From there they are trucked to other areas.

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