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Red Deer man charged by bull moose is just the latest animal-human conflict

RDP biologists will be researching ungulate movements in the city

A Red Deer man who was chased up a tree by an aggressive bull moose this week figured his adrenaline must have gone into overdrive.

Dave Meredith tried repeating his emergency tree-climb Wednesday at the request of a TV news crew — and he said it took him four attempts since the lowest tree branch was more than five feet off the ground.

News of Meredith’s moose encounter, which was picked up from social media by various news outlets, happened at about 6 p.m. on Tuesday as he was on a nightly walk around his Anders neighbourhood.

The 48-year-old recalled initially spotting the moose from a distance munching on branches near the Anders on the Lake pond. To be safe, he opted to detour and walk along the street instead.

But on his way home, Meredith figured the moose had moved away onto another path, so he returned by the pond route.

Meredith recalled suddenly looking up and being surprised to see the moose standing about 50 or 60 feet away. Keeping a tree between himself and the large animal, he took a few photos with his phone.

A couple of neighbourhood dogs began barking from their yards, he recalled, and the moose began getting agitated.

After shaking his antlered head and huffing, the adult animal with a full rack of antlers began charging at him.

Meredith said he first thought the creature would bluff and pull back — instead the bull moose crossed the entire distance within seconds.

“I could not believe how fast it moved. I was absolutely amazed at the speed,” said Meredith, who pulled off a lightning-quick response himself, climbing the tree to hoist himself out of harm’s way.

The local business owner figures he sat up in the branches for about 10 minutes as the moose circled below. He took a video showing the animal getting progressively more frustrated, exhibiting rutting behaviour by poking his antlers into the snow.

After circling the tree several times, the moose eventually gave up the chase and lumbered away. Meredith recalled waiting another 10 minutes up in the branches before daring to come down.

He has a new-found appreciation for the power and agility of a woodland animal he previously thought of as being rather slow and docile.

“In the end, they are wild animals and you have to respect them. Even though they are walking into our city… you can’t take the wild out of them,” Meredith added.

Animal-vehicle collisions are increasing in Red Deer, where several moose crossing signs were erected in recent years to keep motorists alert to the potential animal encounters along 30th Avenue.

This month, Red Deer Polytechnic biology instructor Sandra MacDougall is also starting a new moose and deer tracking project in the city, along with fourth-year student Kira Weddell and other student researchers.

Being on the Red Deer River and close to the Blindman River makes the City of Red Deer an important area for wildlife movements, said MacDougall, who noted urban deer and moose populations have increased over the past decade, leading to more animal-human conflicts.

Her ungulate tracking project is attempting to decrease these. But “we first need to understand the population status and movement patterns of moose, white-tailed deer, and mule deer in the city,” said MacDougall.

The objectives are to analyze animal sightings and conflict data within Red Deer, estimate wildlife populations and distribution through remote camera and drone monitoring, and make recommendations to reduce human-wildlife conflict.

Key wildlife corridors would be identified to help educate residents on how to co-exist with deer and moose. MacDougall said these corridors could also be taken into consideration when the city is planning new roads or retrofitting existing ones.

“We anticipate that this project will have a number of positive impacts,” both for wildlife and Red Deerians, she added.

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Lana Michelin

About the Author: Lana Michelin

Lana Michelin has been a reporter for the Red Deer Advocate since moving to the city in 1991.
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