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FROM THE ARCHIVES: Moose sightings increase

NOTE: This story published Sept.

NOTE: This story published Sept. 23, 2008, in The Forum.

They aren't stampeding through Fargo-Moorhead yet, but moose sightings are on the rise in the region.

Monday's mild moose chase through Moorhead was the latest in a string of moose incidents over the past two weeks stretching from Mapleton, N.D., to Barnesville, Minn.

The increase in sightings is likely caused by a combination of urban sprawl and moose acclimating more to the Red River Valley area, said Doug Leier, a biologist with the North Dakota Game and Fish Department

As cities continue to stretch, an increase in sightings within city limits could be possible, said Leier, pointing to Friday's run-in with a moose in Eagle Run Plaza in West Fargo.

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"Five years ago that was moose habitat," he said of the new development.

Rural sightings are much more common. Some people see moose daily and aren't likely to report the incidents, Leier said.

More public sightings, like one Sept. 12 in Barnesville, are less likely to go unnoticed.

A young bull "pretty much walked right through the middle of town" just after 8: 30 a.m., said Barnesville Police Chief Dean Ernst.

Ernst and others kept the moose moving north so it wouldn't get "tangled" until it left town about 10 a.m. The moose crossed a residential area and lingered near a creek, "but we kind of kept him going," Ernst said.

The most recent sighting was about 7 a.m. Monday when law enforcement noticed a moose headed toward Moorhead, said Phil Seefeldt, a conservation officer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

The moose stopped in the city's Menards' parking lot for a while before crossing Interstate 94 and cutting through neighborhoods along Village Green Golf Course. It headed out of town and dashed across fields before resting in the middle of one - hidden from view - just outside city limits.

There were also moose sightings Monday morning in Oakport, Minn., about 8:20 a.m. and north of Dilworth about 10 a.m., according to dispatch logs and Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist.

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It's unclear whether the moose sightings involved the same bull spotted in Moorhead.

"Moose definitely move around," Bergquist said. Clay County officials often receive reports of moose sightings, particularly in swampy areas or sloughs, he said.

"They don't always come into town, but it seems like every now and then it happens," Bergquist said. "If they're hungry, they might go into people's yards or something."

If someone sees a moose, officials recommend leaving it alone and not approaching it because they can be dangerous, especially if provoked.

A cow and its calf were shot and killed in April 2003 after running in a panic through a south Fargo neighborhood after kids threw snowballs at them and gawkers gathered.

"Moose have been known to charge people," Bergquist said.

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