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Hartland Man Arrested for Moose Kill


 

HARTLAND — A Hartland man was arrested by the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) police after admitting he killed a moose behind his home.

Michael Lewis of Mill Street was visited by the department’s Division of State Environmental Conservation (EnCon) Police Nov. 26 after the department received a complaint of illegal hunting. A search of Lewis’ property uncovered a moose carcass in the woods on Lewis’ property as well as 35 pounds of meat and a 12-point set of moose antlers.

Lewis was scheduled to appear at the Bantam Superior Court Dec. 17 to answer to the charge of the illegal taking of a wild quadruped.

Moose hunting is illegal in Connecticut, as well as in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine do allow the hunting of moose, but only during a brief season. Hunters must undergo a complex permit process.

In New Hampshire, the open hunting season on moose is only nine days long and permits are issued by lottery.

"Moose and bear were extirpated from the state over a century ago," said Sergeant O’Connell of EnCon. "There is no provision for an open season on moose and bear; however, there may be in the future."

With a recent dramatic rise in the population of both animals, O’Connell suggested bear hunting may soon be allowed.

"We estimated the [moose] population between 50 and 100 animals in the state," said Michael Gregonis of the DEP Wildlife Division. Exact tracking of moose has not been maintained and estimates are based on public sightings.

"I think that the [moose] population in Massachusetts has expanded and grown and we are getting the overflow," said Gregonis. "We have become more of a mature wooded habitat and that is more conducive to moose than 25 or 50 years ago."

Moose thrive in forested areas. In the past 400 years Connecticut transitioned from a forest-covered state where moose were native to an agriculturally driven state. When the land was cleared, moose migrated away from the area. Today, more than two-thirds of the state has become forest again and the animal is returning.

Officials say the moose population in Connecticut is too small to allow hunting. "We just didn’t have any moose in the state 25 years ago," said Gregonis.

With only a few dozen, compared to over 30,000 moose estimated in the wilderness of Maine, hunters can expect moose hunting to remain outlawed for at least the next few decades.

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