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Weber State campus gets visit from moose, animal meets tragic end

By Tim Vandenack - | Sep 23, 2021
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A moose wades in the pond at Weber State University on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.
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A moose wades in the pond at Weber State University on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021.

OGDEN — Caution: This is an animal story that ends on a sad note.

A moose wandered onto the campus of Weber State University on Wednesday, initially wowing those who happened to see the large animal. But subsequent efforts to guide the animal off the campus into the nearby mountains failed, resulting in a tragic end.

Responding officials, who included Weber State police, “tried to redirect the moose back up the mountainside, but, sadly, it ran onto Harrison Boulevard, where it was hit by a car,” according to Weber State spokeswoman Allison Hess. She said Thursday that an officer with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, who responded to the incident, put the animal down.

Kevin Blanch, who was on campus at the time doing research in the Weber State library, was there. He posted a video on YouTube of police cars on Harrison Boulevard, lights flashing, responding to the crash, which occurred Wednesday evening after sunset. “Heartbreaking, really heartbreaking,” he said Thursday.

Everyone on campus with the moose seemed to be taking pictures of the critter, he said, but they kept their distance and were mindful of not startling the animal. “Everybody was very conscious of it,” Blanch said.

Photos taken by Weber State photographer Benjamin Zack show the animal standing in the pond at Ada Lindquist Plaza on the Weber State campus. According to Hess, the animal was around the campus for several hours on Wednesday.

Mark Hadley, the DWR’s Northern Utah outreach manager, said instances of moose wandering from the wilds to more inhabited areas this time of year aren’t uncommon. It’s rutting season and older bull moose typically chase off younger bull moose, like the one on the Weber State campus.

“They view the younger bulls as competition. They’ll just run those bulls off, run them off the mountain,” he said.

Tranquilizing an animal in such circumstances and then moving them is one option, Hadley said. But because the animal was in a pond, the DWR officer worried that the moose would have fallen in the water and drowned. When it ambled out of the water, it was getting dark, prompting concern that the animal, if shot with a tranquilizing dart, would have run wildly, making capture difficult.

When the animal started moving toward Harrison Boulevard, authorities on hand — who had kept their distance — did what they could to try to protect it. “The cops are right there. They’re trying to stop traffic for him,” Blanch said. The animal, he added, had almost made it all the way across the street when it was hit.

Hadley said it’s best for humans to steer clear of moose, give them plenty of space. “Our advise to people is to remember that moose can be very aggressive. They’re big, strong, very fast,” Hadley said. The meat from the moose was salvaged, he said, and given to “a family in need.”

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