NATICK, Mass. -- Callers Monday protested the fatal shooting of an apparently sick moose that wandered into a populated neighborhood, police said.
The callers clogged police phone lines from Sunday afternoon into Monday, but municipal police said it was not their decision 'to put down' the 700-pound animal.
The moose was shot to death Sunday afternoon by Environmental Police out of concern for public safety after it had become surrounded by curious residents who gathered to see the animal, a rare sight in the area, police said.
'The phone calls started right after the story hit the news yesterday, continued through the night and are still coming in,' a police spokesman said. 'We lost track of how many people called.'
The bull moose, believed to be from New Hampshire, apparently had wandered into the neighborhood about 1 p.m. Sunday and, followed by a growing crowd, wound up in the backyard of an empty home.
'We tried to get it back to the wilderness but it ended up in a back yard and apparently was trapped there by the large crowd that prevented it from getting back to the woods,' the police spokesman said.
He said the animal was shot after officers dispersed the crowd.
City police said the decision to kill the moose was made by a wildlife biologist employed by the state Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, who determined the moose was 'diseased and a threat to the public.'
The biologist said 'it was in the animal's best interest to put it down,' police said.
Officials feared the animal would react violently and erratically if shot with a tranquilizer before the drug took effect.
'It was a matter of public safety,' said Lt. Frank Fletcher of the Massachusetts Environmental Police.