New problem for Pete the moose
Montpelier, Vermont - August 10, 2010
"This is a very serious thing that needs to be addressed," Vt. Agriculture Secretary Roger Allbee said.
The issue-- Pete the moose's owner Doug Nelson has not given the state a management plan, even though he's had three months to do so after lawmakers passed a last minute plan to save the moose. Pete is living on an elk hunting preserve in Irasburg after being found mauled by dogs.
The Vt. Fish and Wildlife Department planned to kill Pete. It's against the law to keep wild animals in captivity because they could spread disease. But lawmakers turned Doug Nelson's preserve into a game farm under the jurisdiction of the Agency of Agriculture.
"We hope he will understand that there were several legislators that went to bat for him to put special provisions into the law to allow him to comply at this time, it seems quite unreasonable that he would ignore what is required," Allbee said.
Calls to Nelson were not returned but he sent a letter to Allbee asking for an extension because his expert is in Texas. Allbee says Nelson has had time and the law is clear-- a plan was needed by August 1. Nelson is facing a state fine of $250 a day.
Allbee: If he doesn't comply with the hearing and tell us how he is complying he is going facing a very significant fine at this stage.
Reporter Kristin Carlson: Is it still on the table that the animals would be killed?
Allbee: I don't think anyone is at that stage of the recommendation, but certainly we are looking with the possibility of the fine that Mr. Nelson will understand that everyone in the state of Vermont is being understanding and reasonable and if he continues to show he doesn't regard state law as being important, that obviously he'll have the public against him as well.
The state is now asking to have a hearing with Nelson in two weeks to hear his management plan. And it's not just state officials and lawmakers who are annoyed, even some Pete supporters say they are frustrated that Nelson has not complied with the new law.
Kristin Carlson - WCAX News