The City of St. Albert is addressing last week’s shooting of a mother moose in the city’s river valley in three ways.
City manager Kevin Scoble sent a letter to the assistant deputy minister of Alberta Environment and Parks Monday morning asking that the ministry conduct a review of the incident and share the information with the city.
Coun. Sheena Hughes provided a notice of motion, which will be debated at a future meeting, to have Mayor Nolan Crouse send a letter to Environment and Parks Minister Shannon Phillips calling for a “full investigation” of the incident, with a copy of all reports going to the city.
Lastly the city will review its own integrated pest management policy and related protocols to make sure there’s clarity of roles and responsibilities. Crouse said it’s important to look at ways to be proactive with respect to animals, rather than reactive.
“We have to think about a way to deal with wildlife, especially in the river corridor, over a number of years,” he said.
“We’ve got to take a look at it as a wildlife corridor, and what we can do to make it safe for animals and humans,” Coun. Bob Russell added.
The lengthy debate on the matter at the April 3 council meeting, in which three concerned residents made presentations expressing their concerns, stemmed from an incident in Red Willow Park near Sturgeon Road and St. Albert Trail last Wednesday morning, March 29.
Scoble provided a recap of the incident for council. Between 7 and 8 a.m., calls from the public began to come in to the local RCMP detachment saying there was a mother moose and two yearlings in the park near the river. Fish & Wildlife officials also told police they were getting calls.
Police attended, but took no action as the moose were calm. A crowd began to form, and Fish & Wildlife officers attended and tried to use non-lethal ammunition to move the moose to the west out of town.
“At one point the moose turned and charged one of the officers, and at that point lethal force was used,” Scoble said.
The cow was shot and removed, while the calves were tranquilized and taken to a piece of Crown land southwest of town to be released. Scoble said the calves had a high chance of survival, as they were nearly at the point where their mother would have abandoned them to have new calves.
Alberta Environment and Parks spokesperson Brendan Cox has said officers used the appropriate protocols in dealing with the situation.
But several residents questioned the official version of events in presentations to council this week.
Stuart Loomis filmed the incident, and said not enough time was spent trying non-lethal methods. He said Fish & Wildlife officers got out the big guns within five minutes of arriving.
“There seemed to be an immediate escalation to gunfire,” he said.
Quentin Innis said he was concerned officers did not exercise appropriate care and control of the site, and there was not enough done to mitigate risks to traffic along St. Albert Trail.
“What I saw that day, I submit, was not a proper handling of wildlife,” he said.
Mark Pesklawis questioned how far the calves were taken from town, since he saw what he believed to be the two calves the next day at the east end of town near Riverlot 56, saying dropping them too close to town further endangered them and residents.
“They should have been taken to some rural area 15 miles away, not put back on the edge of St. Albert to wander back in,” he said.
Hughes and Russell also questioned how everything was handled, with Russell describing the incident as “the assassination of a mother moose.”