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Driving the Merritt? Brake for Moose

There's a moose ("Trum-bull moose"?) on the loose in western Connecticut, and the beast can be deadly to drive into on a highway like the Merritt or Interstate 84.

Look up when you're driving on the Merritt Parkway, because moose can be really tall.

They can also reach up 1,800 pounds, enough to seriously damage a car and its occupants, said Trumbull Park Ranger Bob Hawley. 

According to the state Department of Environmental Protection,  "motorists on the Merritt Parkway and Interstate 84 in western Connecticut should be extra vigilant," according to a press release.

On May 30, DEP Environmental Conservation Police responded to a moose sighting at 46 Porter Hill Road in Trumbull near the Route 25 and the Merritt Parkway and moose have been reported near Interstate 84 near Waterbury and Bethel in the last week, the release states.

The DEP encourages residents to report moose sightings to the DEP’s 24-hour dispatch line at 860-424-3333.

"Connecticut’s moose population continues to grow steadily and the DEP estimates that more than 100 currently reside in the state, primarily in the northern towns where most of the moose-related accidents have occurred," according to the statement.

But they could expand southward because they are transient creatures who will wander where the food is. "They're getting more and more common in Connecticut," Hawley said.

Decades ago, "they were native to Connecticut," he added.

Motorists should watch out, especially because the animals can grow so tall only their legs are visible.

The DEP issued five tips for driving where moose have been spotted.

  • Stay alert, especially around dawn, dusk and after dark when moose are most active.  Because moose are 6 feet tall at the shoulders, your headlights typically will not show any “eye shine” from a moose.
  • Use caution during spring (May-July) and fall (September-November).  During these months, moose are most active.
  • Drive within the posted speed limit.
  • Use high beams whenever possible to improve visibility.
  • Wear your seatbelt.

Hawley added that people should not approach a moose if they see one. As with other wild animals, the DEP will tranquilize the animal and move it, he said.

"You don't want to fool around with a moose," Hawley said.

Editor's note: This article originally was published by Trumbull Patch.

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