JACKSON — A stream of phone calls this winter from Alpine residents irked by a cantankerous bull moose living off grain faithfully left out in a feed trough prompted wildlife managers to take action this past week.
To the dismay of one neighbor and the delight of others, Wyoming Game and Fish Department wildlife biologist Gary Fralick disabled the big ungulate with a tranquilizer dart and then hauled it to a wilder environment just south of Jackson.
His reasoning was that the moose was a hazard to the neighborhood’s human inhabitants, behavior he had experienced firsthand.
“On Jan. 10, I tried to move the bull off of a property, just to see how he would respond,” Fralick said. “He didn’t move. He pinned his ears at me, which is a sign of aggression.”
When Fralick sent a stream of bear spray at the irascible animal, it “didn’t really react.”
“He just walked away,” he said.
Fast forward a few weeks and more phone calls from worried people had filtered in.
After finishing up some elk counts Friday on the feedgrounds south of Jackson, a handful of Game and Fish employees took advantage of the manpower at their disposal and drove down the Snake River Canyon to move the moose.
“It went off without a hitch,” Game and Fish spokesman Mark Gocke said. “The moose was standing there. It was pretty easily darted, went down in 10 minutes, and we winched it on a tarp into a horse trailer. By the time we got to South Park it was up and ready to go.”
At least one resident of an Alpine neighborhood that abuts the Bridger-Teton National Forest foothills leading up to Ferry Peak was not pleased with the outcome.
Patty Green, a devoted moose feeder whose operation has created neighborhood warfare, had grown familiar with the bull biologists relocated, and she insisted the animal was gentle.
“I have a lot of witnesses to prove he wasn’t aggressive,” Green said. “There were other people that were with him, fed him, stood by him, took his picture — and he was never aggressive. I could even put my hand on him if I wanted to. He would let me.”
As a general rule, petting moose is not advised.
By Mike Koshmrl
Jackson Hole News&Guide Via Wyoming News Exchange