Update: moose dies after chase through downtown Prince Albert

A moose was cornered in this alleyway by conservation officers after running through downtown Prince Albert over lunch hour Wednesday (Photo courtesy Jennifer Falconer).

Conservation officer Daryl Minter was driving by the river bank when he saw what he thought was a Great Dane running free on the Rotary Trail near Riverside School. But when he got closer, he realized it wasn’t a big dog — it was a moose.

As he watched, the moose ran into a yard and hopped a fence before heading into a residential area. He called it in, and more conservation officers and city police joined the chase, with the intent of steering the moose back to the river and out of the city.

The moose continued west, heading down 11 Street, surprising farmers market vendors, security guards and people out for their lunch break.

Arnold Brewster was manning his farmers market booth when the moose “went flying by,” about 15 feet from the front of his vegetable stand.

“It was surprising,” he said. “The highlight of farmers market.”

Commissionaire Rick Galloway, who was working security at City Hall, was also caught off-guard.”

“The moose was running down 11th Street … going full out,” he said. “It almost ran over a guy who was crossing the street and ran across (Memorial Square) over to the Forestry Centre.”

The moose passed within six feet of Galloway.

“I stood behind a tree because I didn’t want to be run over,” he said. “I’m used to wild game, but it was something a little unusual to see.”

According to bystanders, the moose, which looked tired and alarmed, ran down 11th Street heading westbound before cutting across Memorial Square. The animal crossed the street and ran straight for the Forestry Centre, before detouring and heading around the back of the building into an alleyway behind some First Avenue West businesses.

There, the animal was cornered by conservation officers and members of the city police.

“When it came up to the buildings there, it trapped itself, so we were able to contain it in that area,” Minter said.

“But you could tell it was very stressed out.”

With the moose trapped in a corner, the plan to chase the animal back across the river and safely out of town had to be abandoned. Instead, they had to get a tranquillizer rifle out.

Officers kept the public at a safe distance while the conservation officers successfully hit the moose with a tranquillizer dart. The moose stumbled and laid down, before getting up and walking into a wall. It then took a seat again, and conservation officers were successful in hitting the moose with a second tranquillizer dart. The moose laid down on its side, waving one leg before passing into sleep, motionless save for the heavy breathing of the animal as it recovered from its downtown adventure. It originally appeared that a tag could be seen on one of the moose’s ears, but Minter told the Herald that it was blood, as the moose had damaged one of the stubs of its emerging antlers.

Once the moose had been immobilized, officers carefully used a blanket to load it onto the back of a flatbed tow truck, and the moose was taken away from the city’s downtown core.

“They were going to take it out to an area where we would still be able to monitor it, but far enough from the city where it wouldn’t be returning,” Minter said. “Unfortunately, when they got to the area, they realized the moose had passed away. They were quite disappointed it didn’t survive.”

As Minter explained, wild animals under stress often develop something called capture myopathy, where muscles and tissue, including the heart, become damaged from extreme exertion, struggle or stress. The body begins to shut down, and the animal eventually dies.

Minter emphasized that the two tranquillizer darts wouldn’t have killed the moose, but the stress of the run definitely would.

“We know the animal was very fatigued and very stressed when we were eventually able to gain control of it,” Minter said. “I’m sure the hot conditions today didn’t help. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out in the moose’s favour.”

No one appeared to be injured in the encounter. That’s something Galloway was pleased to see, as was Minter

“It could have been very dangerous is somebody had accidentally stepped in front of it,” Galloway said.

Minter agreed.

“We’re lucky nobody got injured.”