While the appearance of a moose in Collinsville generated much excitement, it was actually not the animal’s first foray into the Farmington Valley. Monday morning that very same moose was spotted in Thomaston near Route 8, causing the Department of Energy and Environmental Protect to issue an alert to motorists.
“This moose had been seen quite a bit,” said DEEP wildlife biologist Andrew LaBonte.
On June 4, an animal that officials believe is the same moose was spotted off of Secret Lake Road near the Avon/Canton town line and the next day on Bunker Hill Road in Canton, according to DEEP records.
On June 18, several sightings were reported in Farmington, including Route 6 and Scott Swamp Road and Hyde Road and Executive Drive.
The next day the moose was spotted in Plainville and DEEP captured the 676-pound, approximately two-year old male, tagged him #8, outfitted him with a GPS collar and relocated him to Metropolitan District Commission property at the Barkhamsted Reservoir, LaBonte said.
The collar and ear tag were placed on the animal as part of a program with DEEP, University of Connecticut, Northeast Wildlife Damage Management Cooperative Program, with cooperation from the MDC. According to an article LaBonte penned for Connecticut Wildlife in late 2010 it allowed for the study of habitat, weight, age, survival and more.
Most of the collars were grant-funded but unfortunately have been plagued with problems, LaBonte said.
In addition to a limited range of about one mile, some have fallen off and many have not functioned for the expected two years, LaBonte said.
Whether #8's collar is malfunctioning or the animal was just out of range, DEEP lost track of it after July, LaBonte said.
This fall, however, moose #8 returned to the area. While animals disperse in the spring, he is likely now looking for a mate and in addition to the Collinsville sighting there were others, including one Sept. 23 in New Hartford, four days before Collinsville Canoe and Kayak employees spotted it across the river from their lot in Collinsville.
“This is the time of year when moose are breeding,” LaBonte said. “Ten miles is not out of the normal range.”
On Monday morning, the animal was reported near the Thomaston Dam.
The department’s technique in dealing with an animal depends on the situation, LaBonte said.
“Unless it poses a really major threat to public safety, we try not to do anything,” LaBonte said.
Often an alert is issued, as it was this morning in an attempt to warn motorists in the area of Route 8.
Two were killed in accidents including one last month in Bozrah and another earlier in the year in Hartland, LaBonte added.
DEEP has only euthanized one moose this year, LaBonte said, and that one, found in Pleasant Valley, was sick, he said.
According to the DEEP alert, the animal is especially dangerous to drivers as they can be hard to spot at night and can crash through a windshield after they are struck.
LaBonte estimates that there are between 75 and 100 moose in the state. This year there have been 72 sightings.
Most of the moose settle in areas like Barkhamsted, Hartland, Colebrook and further west LaBonte said. Sightings in Canton, Granby and Burlington are not uncommon, he said. There was even one in West Hartford in June.
The Connecticut population seems to be largely self-regulating due to factors such as disease and heat stress, he said.
Find out more about Moose in DEEP’s fact sheet.
DEEP requests residents report any sightings, which can be done through this online form.
All moose and deer vehicle collisions should be reported to local, state, or DEEP Environmental Conservation Police Officers at 860-424-3333.