AUGUSTA — A moose that has made the rounds in north Augusta in recent weeks was shot and killed Friday as it ran toward traffic on Interstate 95.

Game Warden Steve Allaire, who made several attempts over the past month to safely move the moose to a new home, described the ending as disappointing, but necessary.

“It was an imminent threat to public safety,” he said. “We had to euthanize it.”

The moose, believed to be a 2-year-old cow, was first spotted in St. Augustine’s Cemetery off Townsend Road in late July. State scientists, along with Allaire and warden Gary Allen, tracked the moose for several hours before determining the animal was in good health. Attempts to shoot the animal with a tranquilizer were called off when the moose moved to an area at the back of the cemetery.

“It’s quite hilly,” Allaire said. “It’s not an ideal spot for a moose that’s probably going to run a little bit and might hurt itself.”

Allaire said wardens decided to continue to monitor the area to see if the moose left on its own or would need to be relocated.

“We wanted to do everything in our power to try and save it,” Allaire said.

The moose was spotted some time later and Allaire requested a plane to locate the moose and try to track it to a good spot to shoot it with a tranquilizer. The effort failed when the plane was unavailable.

The next sighting was around 11:30 a.m. Friday when Maine State Police were called about a young moose standing near the northbound lane of Interstate 95 near exit 112.

“Knowing the history of the moose, I told state police I’d handle it so I could try to contain it and get the biologist coming my way with a tranquilizer and relocate it,” Allaire said. “It didn’t take long to find it. Unfortunately, it was in a very dangerous spot next to the interstate.”

Allaire, along with state police and Augusta police, worked for about an hour to contain the moose near the exit 112 off ramp. A biologist from Sidney arrived with a tranquilizer gun. After an hour the group moved in to try and dart the moose.

When the animal ran toward the highway, Allaire and the biologist decided the delayed effect of the tranquilizer would leave the moose enough time to run onto the highway. It was the lunch hour and Friday, and Allaire described the highway as particularly busy with traffic.

“With the dart it would just keep on going,” Allaire said.

Because of warm weather and the time it would have taken to field dress and remove, the meat would not have been safe for human consumption, Allaire said. He instead offered the carcass to DEW Animal Kingdom and Sanctuary in Mount Vernon.

While moose are known to roam Maine’s towns and cities, Allaire said it’s rare for moose to make their home in such a populated area. The Marketplace at Augusta and Augusta Civic Center are nearby.

“It probably has some great habitat, but due to the high concentration of people in the mall it’s not a great place for them to be hanging out,” he said. “We did our best on this one. It’s too bad it didn’t work out.”

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