Moose on the loose in Sherbrooke takes a dip in backyard swimming pool

·3 min read
The moose stood in the residential pool for a little under an hour before being tranquilized and pulled out by wildlife officers. (Jacques Lamarche/Radio-Canada - image credit)
The moose stood in the residential pool for a little under an hour before being tranquilized and pulled out by wildlife officers. (Jacques Lamarche/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Some people in a residential neighbourhood in Sherbrooke — practically in the heart of the city — had an unexpected visitor this morning: a moose made its way through the streets before falling into a backyard swimming pool.

"I was walking, and I was like 'what is that thing'?" recounted eight-year-old Joëlle Prince, who spotted the large ungulate on her walk to school with her father and sister.

"He was big like a horse," she added.

Prince said the animal then retreated into a neighbour's backyard while the family continued its walk to school.

Less than an hour later, Sherbrooke police received reports that the moose had fallen into a pool not far from Prince's house.

The moose spent a little over an hour in a residential pool before being tranquilized and pulled out by officers from the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks.
The moose spent a little over an hour in a residential pool before being tranquilized and pulled out by officers from the Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks. (Spencer Van Dyk/CBC)

It took eight police officers and four wildlife agents a little under an hour to get it out.

The officers sedated the moose and pulled it from the pool and onto a gurney, before loading it onto a trailer. It is being relocated to a nearby forest.

Several neighbours said they were shocked to see the large animal in the area, especially in a residential area so close to downtown.

"This morning was a fairly rare phenomenon," said Sherbrooke Police spokesperson Martin Carrier. "On Portland Boulevard, where there is a lot of traffic, it brought a more dangerous aspect to the situation."

The tranquilized moose is pulled from the pool before being loaded onto a gurney.
The tranquilized moose is pulled from the pool before being loaded onto a gurney.(John Sebastien Nais/Radio-Canada)

Marco Festa-Bianchet, an ecology professor at l'Université de Sherbrooke, said this kind of incident is "not very frequent, but it's not the first time it's happened."

He said from the photos he's seen, he believes the animal was a young male and that they can wander far and wide.

"What likely happened is it simply got lost," he explained.

Festa-Bianchet said the moose probably got spooked — perhaps disoriented by the traffic — and fell into the pool while searching for a wooded refuge.

The professor added there is always a risk a relocated animal develops a condition called capture myopathy, a sometimes-fatal disease brought on by acute stress, but he does not believe there was any alternative to removing it from the pool.

"It's a big animal and not easy to move around," he said. "They also had to be very careful to get it out of the water before the drug took full effect as it would have drowned."

The sedated moose was loaded onto a trailer and will be relocated to a nearby forest.
The sedated moose was loaded onto a trailer and will be relocated to a nearby forest.(Spencer Van Dyk/CBC)

Joël Bonin of Nature Conservancy of Canada said as the human footprint in the province expands, there will continue to be greater disturbances to wildlife and their habitats.

"The greatest threat to animals is the permanent presence of humans," he said. Bonin said there is a need for more protected areas for wildlife, and greater infrastructure in wildlife corridors to help them safely cross the province.