WOODFORD -- A state game warden shot and killed a moose in a Woodford resident’s driveway on Monday, and the property owner doesn’t believe it was the right thing to do.
Lawrence Hollister, of Harbour Road, first saw the moose around Oct. 3. The moose was seen in his yard every day for the next two weeks, where it would drink water out of Hollister’s pond.
"He showed no aggression, in any way, to anyone. Children have been near him, and some people even told me they touched him," said Hollister.
A moose of a different demeanor was described by game officials.
"Sunday night, I got a call from the state police in Shaftsbury, who received two complaints about a moose charging vehicles," said Game Warden Greg Eckhardt.
Eckhardt spoke to one of the drivers who "described that the moose was charging cars and people."
According to Hollister, one of the calls had been from a resident who was interested in shooting the moose for its meat, not because it was aggressive. He also doubted the account of the moose charging cars.
"It’s a big animal, people can take it wrong," said Hollister, "People aren’t really trained for that, they don’t know what they’re talking about when they say its charging. It’s not charging, it’s walking. It’s been around people for two weeks now, it’s friendly."
Eckhardt arrived at the Hollister residence at around 2 p.m. on Monday, and found the moose in Hollister’s driveway.
"Most wild animals will leave when you yell at them," he said.
When the moose didn’t respond, he shot it in the hindquarters with a rubber bullet, which caused the moose to run about 30 feet and turn back. Judging the animal’s lack of fear to be caused by some type of brain disease, Eckhardt shot and killed the animal with a real bullet.
"The ribs and pelvic bones were showing, which are signs that this was not a healthy animal," said Eckhardt.
When questioned by Hollister, who arrived at the scene as Eckhardt was loading the now deceased moose into his truck, Eckhardt admitted that he hadn’t witnessed any of the reported aggressive behavior. According to Hollister, Eckhardt kept saying to him, "I have to go" and "I’m wasting the state’s money."
"It seemed like he was in a big hurry to get in, get out," said Hollister.
According to Hollister’s legal counsel, game wardens are required to contact property owners before engaging in any type of activity on their property; otherwise, it is considered trespassing. Hollister, who has no trespassing signs posted along his property, said, "I feel like my rights were violated."
Eckhardt said that game wardens are not required to call landowners, although "it would be nice if we could, but it’s not always possible."
Hollister is in the process of submitting a complaint to the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department, but his legal counsel informed him that he would probably be unable to sue. While trespassing occurred, no property damage resulted, so it would be difficult to pin a dollar amount on the suit.
"I’m not interested in the money," said Hollister, "I just don’t want to see this happen again. It’s not fair to the community."
He added, "I think that he handled the situation very poorly. He didn’t want to take the time to find out what the situation was. My number was on a sign outside the house, he could have called. If he had called, I would have assisted him in any way possible. I would have drove the moose off, etc. There was no reason for why he did what he did."
Lawrence Hollister’s sister, Robin Hollister, contacted the Bennington Banner via our Facebook page. She posted in a message, "The game warden had no right to kill this animal. He came into my brother’s property and shot the animal in the driveway."
Eckhardt said the head of the moose had been cut off and sent to a freezer in Springfield, Mass., to await testing for brain worm. The rest of the moose, said Eckhardt was "disposed of elsewhere."
Derek Carson can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @DerekCarsonBB.