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A moose wandered into town Wednesday morning, drawing police and animal control officials to north Bismarck, along with curious residents eager to document the animal's journey on their phones.

Police urged people to stay away from the area off Washington Street north of Century Avenue because their presence was “agitating the moose,” Police Officer Lynn Wanner said.

The moose appeared to be a bull that had lost its antlers. It spent part of the morning sitting in an open field, then trotted north across 43rd Avenue near the Horizon Market. It later bolted east across Washington Street toward the Boulder Ridge housing development.

Police cars and animal control vehicles followed it throughout the morning, turning on their lights and occasionally blaring their sirens to alert drivers in the area to the animal.

Wanner said police also diverted traffic.

“They just want to herd it out of town,” she said of the officers and officials at the scene.

By late morning, the moose had migrated farther east. It hung around a slough south of Bismarck Ale Works for several hours. Several vehicles of onlookers followed its every move. It eventually "walked itself out of city limits," Wanner said.

Large wild animals such as moose seem to come into the Bismarck-Mandan area several times a year, Wanner said. Bismarck police killed a mountain lion in January. The next month, tracks from another mountain lion were reported in Lincoln. Other notable moose visits occurred in 2016 and 2014.

In October 2016, a moose went on a grand tour of Bismarck, wandering past The Bismarck Tribune, the J.C. Penney loading dock, CHI St. Alexius Hospital, the downtown McDonald's and the Capitol grounds before leaving town.

Two years earlier, a moose that locals named “Bill” began frequenting north Mandan. Police shot the animal in December 2014, sparking outrage among some residents, after receiving multiple calls that Bill was crossing heavily trafficked roads.

The number of moose in North Dakota has increased in recent years. The state Game and Fish Department hasn't yet determined the reasons. The agency issued 479 moose hunting licenses this year, an increase of 140 from 2018. Forty more tags were issued in 2018 than in 2017.

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Reach Amy R. Sisk at 701-250-8252 or amy.sisk@bismarcktribune.com.

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