How did a moose get on the Queensway?

Michael Runtz, an Ottawa naturalist, says the moose found on Highway 417 Thursday likely either travelled overland from Arnprior, Ont., or swam across the Ottawa River from Quebec.

Moose are strong swimmers and can travel great distances, naturalist says

The injured moose made its way onto eastbound Highway 417 around Pinecrest Road before being put down Thursday morning. (Ottawa police)

How did a moose wander onto Highway 417 in Ottawa's urban west end during rush hour Thursday morning? 

The large animal likely either walked from Arnprior, Ont., or swam across the Ottawa River from Quebec, according to Michael Runtz, an Ottawa naturalist. 

The moose, found near the Pinecrest Road exit around 6:15 a.m., was put down after it was found to have an injured leg. 

"Moose do wander around, and Ottawa has a fairly good-sized moose population," Runtz said Friday.

"But to have one wandering Highway 417, pretty close to the heart of city, is quite astounding."

Strong swimmers 

In the summertime, Runtz said, moose like to stay close to waterways where they munch on aquatic plants. So it's entirely possible the moose found in Ottawa Thursday started its journey in Quebec, possibly in Gatineau Park.

"It's impossible to say where this moose came from, but the Ottawa River is very close to the Pinecrest area and ... moose are strong swimmers," Runtz pointed out.

Larger animals including bears, white-tailed deer and coyotes have also been spotted around the city, the Carleton University professor said.

Great distances

As well as being strong swimmers, moose can cover great distances on land.

Moose are routinely spotted in Ottawa's east end, but those likely originated in wooded areas east of the city such as Larose Forest, Runtz said. 

"I can recall a story, a number of years ago, of a moose being found in a swimming pool," he said.

"We are living in an area that was normally inhabited by wild animals and larger animals."

A moose wearing a radio transmitter once travelled all the way from Algonquin Park, passed Kingston and crossed over to the Thousand Islands, Runtz said.

"Travelling ... a couple hundred kilometres is certainly not beyond the means of these animals."