BELGRADE, Maine — Belgrade Lakes community members are mourning the loss of a juvenile moose that frequented yards and ponds for the past few weeks.
Millie the Moose, as she was called by locals, died Saturday, according to game wardens.
Mark Latti, communications director for the Maine Warden Service, said the cause of her death is still under investigation, but the moose had no visible gashes or blunt force trauma, dismissing claims she was killed by a boater.
Christine Rumore lives in New York but visits Belgrade Lakes every year. She told NEWS CENTER Maine she saw Millie just minutes before she died, and the animal seemed fine.
"She stood up and walked around a bit. I was so excited to see her," Rumore said. "She definitely had a home here in Belgrade."
Rumore said she was surprised to hear of Millie's death just minutes later.
"Oh, I cried my eyes out. I couldn't imagine that this beautiful creature wasn't here," Rumore said.
While anyone who sees a moose in their backyard might think it's a treat, Latti said a moose hanging around in a central Maine populated area isn't typical and could signify health issues.
"Moose are a little more susceptible to some of the diseases they wouldn't have in northern Maine," Latti said. "Winter ticks ... brain worm, and that's transmitted through deer."
Latti said Millie was a year old and was most likely just abandoned by her mother, which is normal behavior for moose so they can continue raising calves.
"We end up finding them in unusual areas ... wandering down streets. What they're trying to do is find their home range," Latti said.
Latti added the investigation into Millie's death is still ongoing and hasn't ruled out any specific cause.