Something needs to be done about old telegraph wire left in the bush, says a Yukon conservation officer who had to kill a badly-entangled bull moose on Friday.
"Clearly it's got to be cleaned up," says Ken Knutson.
"It's been known for a while that it's a hazard. Something like this really brings it home where you've got an animal alive in front of you ... and you've got to euthanize it."
A dog musher called conservation officers after spotting the distressed bull moose caught in telegraph wire adjacent to the White Pass and Yukon Route railway, about three kilometres from the South Klondike Highway.
"You could see that this truly epic battle between the wire and the moose had gone on," Knutson said.
"It was wrapped numerous times around pine trees that were five, six inches. It had mowed some of them down. On both sides of the track it was all churned up. So he'd put up quite a struggle."
Knutson says there was no way the moose would have freed itself from the wire on its own.
"There were multiple wraps around its antlers," he said. "It was around his neck, around its body and its hind legs — there was a big snarl."
'I could have literally gone up and touched him'
Knutson says the animal had likely been trapped for a day or two.
"He was worn out," he says. "I could have literally gone up and touched him and he wouldn't have done anything, which is clearly not normal behaviour."
Had the situation been different, he says he might have been able to save the moose. But due to the weak physical condition of the animal and the lack of extra resources available to Knutson at midnight on Friday, he made the decision to shoot it.
Knuston says although the meat will be donated, it's a waste of a healthy 500-kilogram bull.
"He was in the height of his glory; the kind you want out there breeding."
Knuston says he thinks White Pass and Yukon Railway may own the old telegraph line. The railway company did not immediately return calls on Monday.
Plans are in the works to clean up similar abandoned wire that has been snagging caribou and moose for years along the Canol Trail in N.W.T.