From: Susan Allen, Times Argus
Published October 5, 2009 06:24 AM

Why is Pete the Moose on Death Row?

The fate of a tame moose named Pete living on an enclosed elk farm in Irasburg, Vermont remains undecided, with Fish and Wildlife Department officials still negotiating with the farm's owner about what steps to take to rid the property of white-tailed deer and moose living there in violation of state hunting regulations.

Farm owner Doug Nelson, who keeps about 500 imported elk on his 600-acre property for agricultural and hunting purposes, said Friday that he believes the department plans to kill the moose and white-tailed deer living there within the coming weeks. Pete, he said, will be among the animals killed under that scenario.

"They tell me there's no negotiating, put up or shut up," Nelson said, after a meeting with Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Wayne Laroche. "They're going to come up and exterminate them all."

The department's general counsel, David Englander, declined to be specific about any talks under way.

"The department has been and will continue to be diligent with Mr. Nelson to find common ground," Englander said. "It's really not about Pete. It's a much larger issue. How do we deal with the white tail deer and moose in the enclosure?"

The issue came to a head last week after The Times Argus ran photographs of Pete and a brief story on his plight.

Pete has been raised by 73-year-old David Lawrence of Albany, who nursed the then-newborn moose back to health after the animal was badly injured by dogs.

Pete developed an affection for the retired dairy farmer, and now follows Lawrence around when he visits the moose daily with fresh leaves, bananas and an occasional jelly doughnut. Lawrence also checks on the other animals on the farm, with Pete following closely.

Some people, objecting to any plan to kill the tame moose, have written letters to the Time Argus and called the department to call for another solution.

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