By Sue Tiffin, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A moose making frequent visits to the side of Hwy. 118 was put down by Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry after staff determined the animal likely had brain worm.
Reports of the moose laying beside the road in the area for approximately three weeks came in to the Bancroft District MNRF on March 16 and 17, said Jolanta Kowalski, MNRF spokesperson.
“The ministry is aware of a sick moose near Highway 118 and Pike Line, near Haliburton,” Maimoona Dinani, MNRF media relations officer, told the Echo on March 17.
Ministry staff attended the scene to assess the condition of the moose.
“Public safety will always be our number one priority,” said Dinani. “Ministry staff will work with police services to determine an appropriate plan of action if the moose is posing an immediate threat to public safety.”
Late in the afternoon on March 17, it was determined the animal had brain worm, and was a risk for causing car collisions due to its close proximity to the highway.
“MNRF observations of the moose on site indicated that this moose appeared to have several symptoms that are consistent with brain worm including: lack of fear of humans, appearing dazed, not able to move without difficulty, being slow, lethargic and wobbly, continuously licking lips and shaking its head,” said Kowalski. “Observations also confirmed that the muscular condition of the animal was poor, especially around the neck area. Given the proximity of the animal to a road, the potential hazard and risk to public safety was apparent.”
The animal was dispatched by MNRF staff while OPP mitigated traffic in the area.
“Brain worm is often fatal for moose when infected and there is no known cure,” said Kowalski. “As brain worm was suspected, along with public safety considerations, dispatch was the most humane and safest decision to minimize risk to public safety … Public safety is the ministry’s number one priority. Ministry staff work with police services to determine an appropriate plan of action in situations where an animal is posing an immediate threat to personal safety. Dispatch of wildlife is a last resort, but is sometimes needed to ensure public safety.”
Brain worm itself does not pose a risk to humans. It is most common in areas with high deer density, as deer are the primary host of the parasite, with snails and slugs being the intermediate host, said Kowalski. The carcass of the moose was fed to the wolves at the Haliburton Forest Wolf Centre.