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Mon., July 18, 2011, 8:03 a.m.

Moose become canvas for new wildlife control tool

Three moose were hanging out along Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake on July 5, 2011, forcing the State Patrol to stop traffic while Washington Fish and Wildlife police fired paintball guns to chase the animals to safety away from the highway. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
Three moose were hanging out along Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake on July 5, 2011, forcing the State Patrol to stop traffic while Washington Fish and Wildlife police fired paintball guns to chase the animals to safety away from the highway. (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT -- When law enforcement officers arrived around 6 a.m July 5 to deal with three moose on Interstate 90 near Liberty Lake, they were armed with guns you can buy at a toy store.

Washington state troopers blocked I-90 traffic while state Fish and Wildlife police “escorted” three yearlings out of traffic toward the Spokane River. To keep the moose moving, the officers used paintball guns.

“Two officers went at them on foot and stung them every now and then with the paintball guns,” said Capt. Mike Whorton of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department. “Pretty soon they ran across all four lands of I-90 and out of the way of traffic.”

Whorton said one of his officers tested his own paintball gun last year for harassing and moving wildlife out of danger. The test was so successful, a local sportsmen's group has purchased paintball guns for all of the area Fish and Wildlife police, he said.

“Paintball guns can get off a lot of shots rapidly and accurately,” he said. “They are so much more effective and cost effective than the rubber bullets we had been firing out of 12-gauge shotguns. And aside from some pink paint on their rumps, the paintballs don't do any more than sting the moose.”




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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