- BROOKE BOUSQUET | BRYAN PARMELEE
- Numbers reflect the moose population after each year's hunting season. Source: Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Moose have come dangerously close to my car windshield on more than one occasion, but I don't blame them for it. I always find it interesting to write about the strange-looking, lumbering creatures, whether it's a confused moose bedding down in Burlington's Hill Section or an albino moose shot by a teenage girl from Rutland. So in July I set off for the Northeast Kingdom to find out why their population is dwindling in Vermont.
No moose appeared the day I drove through the remote logging roads of the Nulhegan Basin, a vast, wild tract of land close to the Canadian border. But being in a truck with Vermont game warden Randy Hazard for an afternoon gave me a glimpse of his working life, not all of which made it into my story.
For instance, I've always wondered: How do wardens working solo get 1,000 pounds of dead moose off the road after a collision in the middle of the night?
Hazard, a strapping former marine, was more than happy to show me his system for removing moose roadkill, which he employs some dozen times a year, despite the shrinking of the herd. Wearing a sidearm and badge, he climbed into his truck's flatbed to demonstrate.
Hazard showed how he nailed together old highway signs to create a wooden plank that serves as a ramp when he's hauling in a moose. Then he pointed to a small, motorized truck-bed winch and pulled out a length of cable. To this he attaches chains, including a loop for the moose's neck. Once the loop is secured, he hits a switch and the winch reels in the cable. Slowly, the moose is pulled up the ramp and into the truck.
Sometimes the meat winds up being served at game dinners — after Hazard drives it to a butcher who doesn't mind taking deliveries 24-7.
On my accident-free, two-hour drive home, in the waning light of a midsummer evening, I looked at the woods in a different way.