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Neighbors love ‘Lucy the moosey’ who settled down in farm country

Lucy the moose

There’s a moose on the loose in Highland Grove Township in Clay County, and the neighbors seem to love her.

“We named her Lucy – Lucy the moosey. She’s been there over three months,” said Raymond Gierszewski, who lives about a half mile from where the moose likes to hang out near Highway 32, a few miles north of Highway 10.

“There was quite a few at the township meeting awhile back – everybody was talking about her,” he said.

“She was just a calf the first time I seen her,” he added. “She’s been growing ever since. She’s got everything she needs – food, water, there’s a bean field now she’s eating in.”

The Detroit Lakes DNR office is “probably averaging a call a day” from people concerned about the moose, said DNR Area Wildlife Manager Rob Baden.

He and several conservation officers checked on the moose, and found no apparent problems.

“It’s an adult female; she’s been there since sometime in March,” he said. “She seems to be completely healthy. She just likes hanging around that one area there.”

Gierszewski said he has seen her leave to the east a few times, but “she didn’t like it, she came back. She pretty much stays in that quadrant.”

Twenty years or so ago, a moose in that part of Minnesota would have been notable only because it settled down in farm country, but with the drastic decline in the state’s moose population, people are especially concerned and interested in Lucy.

DNR aerial surveys show the state’s moose population has dropped from 8,840 in 2006 to 3,450 this year.

Two years ago, the DNR halted all hunting of the animal. There hasn’t been a moose hunting season in northwestern Minnesota for a lot longer than that, Baden said. It closed in 1997 because of population concerns.

“I just want to put in a plug, with deer season coming, to know your target,” Baden said. “The population of moose has declined tremendously over 25 years, we don’t want to lose anymore.”

With plenty to eat and drink and no apparent predators, Lucy “has no reason to leave,” Baden said. “People are worried – she beds down right in a road ditch sometimes. It’s unusual to see them in farm country.”

Lucy doesn’t have a calf, so she is fairly tolerant of people stopping to take pictures or just watch her, but moose can be dangerous and should not be approached, Baden said.

“Don’t go walking at her, by any means,” he said.

Gierszewski said he has seen as many as five cars at once stopped to watch the moose.

“She gets up early in the morning and people are stopping there early and looking at her,” he said. “I told a friend of mine, who’s a deputy sheriff, I’m going to have to start charging admission.”

Gierszewski and his wife, Nancy, have lived on the farmstead since 1986, and see wildlife on a regular basis.

“Yesterday I saw a coyote,” he said. “We had a bull moose in here one year, and 30 to 40 deer stayed overnight one year in a cove in our trees – it’s a sheltered area in the wintertime. The next day the whole herd just walked off … twenty years ago we had a cow and a calf moose.”

There are still moose on public lands in Mahnomen and Norman counties, only about 50 miles or so from where Lucy has settled down, so she isn’t so far outside  the normal moose range, Baden said.

“Really, 40 or 50 miles to a moose isn’t that much,” he said.

The upshot is that Lucy is perfectly healthy, seems content, and “it’s a good place to see a moose,” as long as people use common sense, park well off the highway and don’t approach the animal, Baden said.

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