A moose has drowned in the lake after a group of people gathered to take photos of it, forcing it to retreat back into the water of Lake Champlain in fear.
According to KSL, the moose swam across the lake from New York to South Hero, Vermont, on Saturday, but was met with a crowd of people on the shore there, all of whom wanted to get close and take photos with the frightened animal.
Fish and Wildlife Warden Robert Currier said that the moose was likely scared by the large number of people getting so close to it on the shore, and he believes the animal retreated back into the water in an effort to get away from them. His assessment is based on what onlookers and local authorities have told him of the incident, as he was not there at the time.
The moose, now back in the lake, began to tread water, but with nowhere to go it eventually “succumbed to exhaustion and drowned.” Currier arrived after the moose went back into the water, but before it drowned. He called on a boat in an attempt to assist the animal before it was too late.
“It was struggling pretty good at that point. We were waiting for a boat to respond to try to assist it, but before the boat arrived, it had drowned,” he said on Monday. “It was really rough out there, probably 4- to 5-foot swells and high wind.”
When the boat finally arrived, Currier climbed into the water and tied a rope around the moose to remove it from the lake, but it was too late to save the poor animal’s life.
Bernadette Toth, an onlooker who was there with her daughter, had seen the moose arriving on the shore, but left before it retreated back into the lake again. She defended the people on the shore, saying it was only a handful of people while she was there.
“They made it sound like it was this big mob of people. No, this is a heavy trafficked area for South Hero,” Toth said. “That is always a very busy, busy area.”
Currier explained that moose have one of two reactions when they feel threatened: either they run away from the threat or become aggressive. He advised that people should steer clear of wildlife, for both their own sake and the animal’s, and notify the Department of Fish and Wildlife.