Why did the moose cross the road? To get back to his home? Maybe. That was the predominant theory, anyway, this morning as police stopped traffic twice to help a wayward moose cross Route 9.
The moose had been wandering the woods surrounding Route 9 in Leicester for about four days before attempting its trek across early this morning, said Leicester Police Chief Jim Hurley. Police first received calls about the moose at about 5:30 a.m., and then again at about 7:30 a.m. when the moose began to cause a traffic problem backing up to the middle of town.
“This morning with the snow and everything, it was out on Route 9 and a lot of people were stopping to look at it,” he said. “We were afraid it was going to get hit crossing Route 9, or that someone was going to get in an accident following it. At one point, there were just five or six cars just pulled over, watching it.”
Police believed that the moose was trying to get across to Henshaw Pond, where they think it has set up its habitat. Police stopped traffic at about 10 a.m. to let the moose cross, but it got spooked and ran into a neighborhood across from the Becker College campus, Hurley said. It then wandered through the campus, up the road in front of Leicester Middle School and onto the property of the Leicester Senior Center.
The moose walked around the back of the building before continuing onto Hyland Avenue. At this point, Hurley said he began to get concerned. School was canceled in Leicester today because of the weather, and Hurley was worried that a curious child would startle the moose, which Hurley described to be about 5 feet tall and to weigh about 500 to 800 pounds.
"I turned around and got ready to leave and I saw a little kid playing, building a snowman," he said. "I thought I’d sit there a moment and wait." At that point, the moose came right up to Hurley's cruiser, allowing him to capture a video of the animal.
A garbage truck coming up the side street spooked the moose away again. At about 11 a.m., the moose was spotted wandering Route 9 again and police, with the assistance of state Environmental Police, stopped traffic again. This time, the moose successfully made its way across.
Hurley said that this is the first moose he has seen in the area since he first began working for Leicester police five years ago.
"Hopefully, it got back to where it wants to be," he said.
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