SKOWHEGAN — A moose kept its cool and made its way to safety after getting caught in the turbulent current of a rain-swollen river, being swept over a dam and cast into the churning waters below.
The lumbering animal climbed ashore near the town sewer treatment plant, shook himself off and calmly wandered off Thursday.
“I’m pretty impressed he survived that,” said Skowhegan police Deputy Chief Rick Bonneau.
Kim Willette called police after the water-loving animal hopped over a chain-link fence into her back yard in this central Maine town.
“I was feeding my dog and I heard dogs across the street barking like crazy,” Willette said. “I looked out the window and saw him [the moose] in the back yard. I stared at him and he stared at me.”
When police arrived, the moose jumped back over the fence, trotted down the street and crossed another yard before swimming across the Kennebec River, which is swollen by recent rainstorms.
After climbing out of the water for a moment, the moose slipped back in for another dip. It was then swept by the fast-moving current over a Central Maine Power Co. hydroelectric dam, where the floodgates have been open for several days.
The animal bobbed around in the gorge below the dam, got turned around temporarily, finally found its footing on the bank and after a few moments wandered away, said Bonneau.
“It was pretty exciting, and I’m awful glad he’s OK,” said Willette.
But seeing a moose survive such conditions shouldn’t come as a complete surprise, said biologist Henry Hilton of the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.
“They’re almost semiaquatic. They’re not like an otter, but they’re at home in the water. They’re excellent swimmers, they’re big and strong, and more agile than people think they are.”