Last summer, a bear wandered into Grand Forks, eluded police efforts to chase it out of town and climbed a tree in University Park. Throughout the day, the bear became quite an attraction, especially to the media and local sightseers who hoped to get a glimpse.
As the day progressed, authorities on the scene realized they had three options: Shoot the bear but risk agitating it; close the park and wait for the bear to climb down; or attempt to sedate it and relocate it.
They chose the third, but after sedating the bruin it sustained injuries and later was euthanized.
And then the criticism began as police were questioned about the process.
We recalled that drama this week, when a moose burst into city limits and was intentionally trapped for the day at UND’s Memorial Stadium. As the day closed, campus police and representatives from a zoo in Wahpeton immobilized the adult cow and moved her to a rural area outside of town.
And then, just like last year after the bear incident, the criticism began. State game officials say the moose shouldn’t have been drugged; because of the proximity to hunting season – archery moose season began Friday and firearm hunting begins Oct. 11 – it’s possible the meat of the tranquilized moose will be a risk for any humans who consume it.
Once again, as we did in 2018 with the bear in University Park, we support the decision of the local authorities who made the call. UND Police Lt. Danny Weigel said his department had discussions with wildlife experts prior to making the decision; at that time, it didn’t appear potential consumption of the meat would be a problem.
Another option “was to euthanize the moose, shooting it on scene. We obviously didn’t like that option, and it was going to be the last option we had,” Weigel said.
Simply letting the moose wander out on its own would have presented all sorts of potential troubles, most notably its risk to pedestrians and local traffic.
“We felt that the option we had was the best option at the time,” Weigel said.
We do, too.
And news in southern Ontario last week showed why last year’s handling of the bear was prudent as well. Catherine Sweatt-Mueller was staying at a cabin in Ontario, near International Falls, Minn., when she was killed by a black bear. While black bears are common in Ontario and northern Minnesota, such aggressive behavior is not. Yet it shows that bears – even black bears – can be a serious threat to the public.
In fact, all wild animals can be, and especially those that are agitated and roaming in strange environments.
The decision to tranquilize the moose was the right one.