A moose made a “majestic” appearance on the Weber State campus on Wednesday, leaving onlookers in awe. Until, unfortunately, it bolted into a nearby street and was struck by a car.
The moose spent hours in the “duck pond” on the campus — the Ada Lindquist Plaza, as it’s formally known — attracting the attention of students, faculty and staff.
“I would describe it as inspiring — or shocking,” said Weber State spokeswoman Allison Barlow Hess. “Majestic. Awesome, even.
“We’re used to wildlife on our campus. We have a lot of it — we’re so close to the hillside. It’s not unusual to see deer, wild turkeys, geese, ducks. But not moose.”
The young bull moose, which the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources estimates was 18-24 months old, was the first to visit the campus in recent memory.
“In the 13 years I’ve been here, this is my first encounter with a moose,” said Weber State Police Chief Seth Cawley. “We had a bobcat that was wandering up in our stadium area several years ago. But as far as moose or other large animals, this is the first that I know of.”
Officers from Weber State, the Ogden Police Department and the state Wildlife Division tried to encourage the moose to head back home.
“We tried to position ourselves and our vehicles to force it back up into the mountains,” Cawley said. “But animals have a mind of their own. And this particular bull moose had other plans.”
The moose got out of the pond and headed toward Harrison Boulevard. “And before we could get traffic stopped … the moose was out into traffic,” Cawley said.
Kevin D. Blanche, who spent the afternoon watching the moose, praised the officers for their attempt to divert the moose and stop traffic. “He made it almost all the way across Harrison when he got hit. … Really, what could you do? We knew that he was in peril. We were hoping that he would wait until later in the evening and make a run for it.”
The car that struck the moose suffered “minor damage,” Cawley said, and no one inside was injured. However, the moose suffered serious injuries and had to be euthanized by the state Wildlife Division.
“I wish it had just run back up in the hills,” Hess said.
The meat from the moose was donated to a family. Weber State Dining on Thursday also tweeted that chocolate mousse would be served in honor of “Hank the moose.”
According to the state Wildlife Division, the young moose was probably pushed out of the hills by older bull moose. Moose breeding season is in late September and early October, and “the big, older bull moose are looking for cows,” spokesman Mark Hadley said. “They chase the younger, smaller bull moose away from the cows and off the mountain. … That is likely what happened.”
The number of human-moose encounters goes up at this time of year, and Hadley advised people to keep their distance.
“They can be very, very aggressive. They’re big. They’re strong. And they can easily outrun a person,” he said. “If a moose decides to charge you, it’s going to run you down. … Don’t get close. Don’t cause the moose to think you’re posing a threat.”
While this may have been the first moose sighting on the Weber State campus, the university has been somewhat overrun with abandoned, domestic fowl. On Sept. 8, the pond was drained, and volunteers from the Wasatch Domestic Waterfowl Resource removed 60 domestic geese and ducks from the pond and took them to foster homes until homes can be found for them.
“Folks see that we’ve got this beautiful body of water, and they come and drop off their animals,” said Barlow Hess. “And they don’t belong here.”
Many of the waterfowl and their offspring do not survive, falling victim to dogs and a lack of food. And, like the moose, many are killed by cars.
“We love wildlife, but there’s a place for the domestic birds and campus isn’t necessarily the safest place for them,” said Weston Woodward, director of campus services.