First, all of you who knew that New Hampshire had a Locked Moose Antler Program, please raise your hand.
I thought as much….
Unless you are a fish and game aficionado (and even if you are) you are probably not aware of this intriguing program. William Matthews of “Why We Are Truly A Nation,” is quoted as writing “Because grief unites us, like the locked antlers of moose who die on their knees in pairs.” WOW….
Did you know that moose almost died out in New Hampshire by the mid-1800s due to unregulated hunting and forest clear-cutting. Now there are at least 7,000 in our state. Moose hunting (limited) helps manage their numbers today. Before you start getting upset with moose hunts, realize that winter ticks cause 41% of their annual deaths, 26% happen as a result of collisions with vehicles, and only 18% die by the hands of hunters.
So, how did the Locked Moose Antler Program come about? First, the odds of finding moose with locked antlers is rare. During the moose breeding (or rut) season, bull moose frequently fight to establish their territory and to collect a “harem” of cow moose. Usually the largest moose wins, and there is minor damage done to the battling moose.
Sometimes when two bulls drive together so hard and actually get their antlers, both of the now helpless animals ultimately die of starvation and exhaustion. Even if this scenario happens, the odds of someone finding their locked bodies or skeletons is even rarer. But that is exactly what happened.
In October of 2003 Ray Deragon of New London, NH came upon the partially decomposing bodies of two adult moose, with their antlers locked, at Gile State Forest in Springfield NH. He notified others of his discovery. This ultimately led taxidermist Mark Dufresne to design a small-sized replica of the life-size, museum quality taxidermy exhibit depicting the event. Dozens of volunteers and donors made a larger life-sized traveling exhibit possible.
2007 scheduled events for this exhibit in New Hampshire include Salisbury, Rochester, Woodsville, Loudon, Holderness, Errol, Hudson, Boscawen, Contoocook, Durham, Conway, Sandwich, and Bretton Woods [look here for further exhibits].