CHESHIRE — No moosetake about it.
A Facebook post with video of a full-grown bull moose sauntering south on the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has been raising some eyebrows.
The post by Kristie Kordana from Friday night at 8:14 p.m. bore the entry, "I thought I was moosetaken, but there actually was a moose on the bike trail."
That was indeed a moose, according to Cheshire Police Sgt. Michael Alibozek.
"He showed up a couple of days ago on the trail," Alibozek said, adding that there were a few calls to the police about it Friday evening.
Since his stroll down the Rail Trail, the dark brown, six- to seven-foot-tall adult apparently kept heading south, the sergeant said, where he was eventually seen crossing Route 8 near the Bass Water Grill restaurant headed towards Lanesborough.
"We haven't seen it since," Alibozek said.
But if he's headed through Lanesborough, where another moose was sighted a few years back, he'll likely be spotted again.
According to information provided by the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, when the area was colonized in the 1700s, settlers found the moose had already been living here in abundance. They were hunted to such an extent that the local population disappeared. More recent conservation measures, including a state prohibition on hunting moose, have allowed the population to rebound somewhat by migrating south from the north country further. Today, most moose deaths occur in Massachusetts from colliding with cars.
Moose typically live 15 to 25 years, grow to between 5 to 7 feet at the shoulder, and a bull can weigh from 700 to 1,000 pounds. Their legs alone can be three to four feet long. During breeding season in September and October, moose tend to be more active. When they're on the move, they don't take much notice of people, or anything else for that matter, because they have no predators.
But if they or their offspring feel threatened or cornered, they can be dangerous.
According to MassWildlife, "If you are lucky enough to see a moose, stay a respectful distance away. In most cases, the moose will move off. Try to avoid startling a moose. During the breeding season in fall, or the calving season in spring, be especially cautious because bulls can be unpredictable and cows can be very protective of their calves. Keep dogs leashed and under control. Moose are unwary as they move through populated areas, particularly during the mating season."
State wildlife officials advise that when a moose is sighted, leave it be and contact the nearest MassWidllife District Office or the Environmental Police to report the sighting and get advice. The Environmental Police can be reached anytime at 800-632-8075.
Folks on the Rail Trail Sunday afternoon near the spot of the sighting were unaware of any significant wildlife activity.
A 90-pound, black-haired, five-year-old dog, a Bouvier des Flandres, was the closest thing to a moose on the trail Sunday. His human, Cheshire resident Fred Abeles, said moose "turn up from time to time, but I've never seen one here. I've seen bear, though."
If he did see one, Abeles said that would be "interesting, and very strange."
Other critters moving on the trail Sunday included squirrels, and one tiny woolly caterpillar.
And people on bikes. Sam Mair and her friends were biking down the trail. She said that if she did see a moose on the trail, she would either run or freeze.
"But I'd probably run," she said laughing.
Scott Stafford can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-629-4517.