BISMARCK — North Dakota Game and Fish Department officials opposed the immobilization and relocation of a moose on the University of North Dakota campus in Grand Forks this week because of "the possibility of consumption and associated health hazard to humans."
In a press release Thursday, Sept. 5, Game and Fish said the drugs used to immobilize the female moose were not labeled as safe for human consumption by the Federal Drug Administration, and the department is concerned about the risk to humans because the safe withdrawal time for the drugs goes into the archery hunting season.
The archery season for moose opens Friday and runs through Sept. 29.
"Conversations are ongoing with all parties to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” Wildlife Chief Jeb Williams said in the release. "While the moose was safely relocated and released back into its natural environment, the anesthetic drug and antibiotics used in this situation present a hazard to anyone consuming this meat as the withdrawal time for both drugs goes well into the archery hunting season."
The moose went onto the UND campus around 8 a.m. Tuesday and spent more than 12 hours in Memorial Stadium.
It was tranquilized in a coordinated effort between UND police and staff from the Chahinkapa Zoo in Wahpeton, N.D. The animal was taken by trailer to a rural area about 5.5 miles west of Grand Forks and released.
Game and Fish said the anesthetic drug used has a 14-day minimum withdrawal period. The antibiotic used has a 28-day recommended withdrawal period before the meat should be consumed, Williams said.
The regular moose hunting season begins Oct. 11 and runs through Nov. 3. A total of 20 licenses were issued in units M5 and M6, which are divided by U.S. Highway 2. The eastern boundary of M9, which includes 45 any and 75 antlerless licenses, is N.D. Highway 1, which is farther west of where the animal was relocated.
“We acknowledge that tranquilizing and relocating moose back to the wild is a popular choice with the public,” Williams said in the press release. “But in certain situations, it is not the most responsible solution. Our agency takes the use of drugs and the recommended withdrawal period very seriously, because we do not want to put hunters and others at risk due to our actions. This is simply a liability we are not willing to assume."