The Vermont moose that attained celebrity status after he was orphaned and then spared from being euthanized by a gubernatorial pardon, has died.
“Pete,” as he came to be known, never revived after being tranquilized during a hoof-trimming procedure. His death was not made public until this past week, prompting an outcry from fans of the moose that state wildlife officials had engaged in a cover-up.
In an article in today’s Burlington Free Press, however, the matter was cleared up when the caretakers of the young moose explained the circumstances and took responsibility.
The caretakers did not comment directly, but Vermont’s fish and wildlife commissioner Patrick Berry told the paper that the caretakers had kept quiet about the popular animal's passing out concern for the reaction it might cause among his many fans.
In 2009, Pete’s mother was killed by dogs and Pete, a calf at the time, was found badly mauled. A couple took care of Pete for a time after state wildlife officials told them it would be better to let the animal die. Realizing they would have to find a more permanent home, they brought it a nearby game preserve.
Because Pete was a wild animal and the elk and other animals inside the preserve were not, the state ordered that Pete either be removed or destroyed, out of a fear of transmitting disease and in accordance with state law.
A campaign was mounted on behalf of Pete, with rallies at the statehouse and a Facebook page created with thousands of followers.
Eventually an act of the legislature and a gubernatorial pardon allowed Pete to stay on the preserve.
Gov. Pete Shumlin issued a statement on Pete’s passing.
“I join the friends and fans of Pete the Moose in expressing my sadness at his passing,” the statement reads. “My thanks to those who voiced their concern about the fate of the animal and who have – like me – believed in the pardon for Pete.”