LIMERICK, MAINE -- A local man acted in self-defense when he used an assault rifle to kill a 550-pound bull moose that was ramming its antlers against his house, authorities said.
The incident happened around 10 p.m. Wednesday. David Morin said he was lying in bed when he heard a crashing noise outside the window of his Pickerel Pond Road house.
"I thought maybe it was a tree," he said. The third time Morin heard the noise he got up, looked out a window and saw the 2-year-old moose slamming its antlers into the house.
Morin first grabbed a .357-handgun, and looked out the door. He tried to scare the animal away three times. He was concerned that the moose might smash the window and charge through the house.
The fourth time he went outside, the moose started toward him. By then Morin had traded his pistol for an AK-47 assault rifle. He shot the animal and killed it.
"I thought when I went out he'd go away, because I didn't really want to shoot him," Morin said.
Late September and early October is breeding or "rutting" season for moose, and aggressive behavior is typical. But wildlife experts say it's unusual for a moose to approach a home like that.
Adult male moose shed their antlers each year. The antlers grow again in early spring, and are fully developed by the end of summer. They then try to rub the velvet covering off by thrashing them against bushes or trees, said state wildlife biologist Karen Morris.
"It's very normal for them to be thrashing their antlers," she said. "It's not usual for them to thrash against a house."
But Morin said the moose was doing more than thrashing. "He was hitting the house pretty hard," he said. "He wasn't scraping, he was butting. He was smashing it straight on."
During the fall mating season, bull moose may spar to defend their right to mate with a cow. They may also show more aggression toward humans. In the spring or summer, cow or female moose with calves may attack humans who get too close to their young.
Moose may also attack humans if they are injured and feel threatened, or if they are sick, said Phil Bozenhard, a state wildlife biologist.
"You need to give them a bit of respect," he said. "They're wild by nature, and if you give them an opportunity, anything can happen."
Game Warden Michael Joy said Morin was "shook-up" when he first spoke with him. The side of Morin's home had marks where the moose dug its antlers in, and the tips of the moose's antlers were white from the dried paint.
Morin will not face charges because he shot in self-defense. In retrospect, Joy said, Morin should have stayed away. "When you see an animal like that, go the opposite direction," he said.
Joy brought the dead moose to a butcher, who will distribute the meat to needy families, he said.
"In my eight years as a warden, I've never investigated a report of someone shooting a moose (in self-defense) and found out it's true. This was the first time," he said.
Staff Writer Grace Murphy can be contacted at 282-8228.
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