Moose-slinging ends

  • FATAL RIDE: A Utah moose lift operation turned deadly when this helicopter later hit a powerline and crashed, killing three

    Tom Smart photo, Deseret News
 

UTAH

Utah's emergency program to relocate moose by air has been grounded.

A heavy early snowfall brought a larger than usual number of moose down close to Interstate 80 in search of food, and drivers struck and killed seven of the animals in December alone. These accidents, combined with an anticipated increase in traffic during the Olympics, had prompted the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to use helicopters to quickly relocate moose away from the highway.

But on Jan. 17, a helicopter on contract to the agency hit a power line and crashed into an ice-filled reservoir, killing all three people aboard. Jim Karpowitz, a wildlife coordinator with the division, says it is unlikely that any more helicopter transports will occur this winter. Any moose needing relocation will travel by truck, he says, but milder weather in late January has resulted in fewer moose coming down near the road.

Moose only arrived in Utah from Idaho and Wyoming in the early 1900s, but the state considers them to be a native species. They "came here on their own and established good, healthy populations," says Karpowitz. Since 1973, the wildlife division has been relocating moose to encourage the animals' expansion into other areas of the state.

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