Online fans help Vermont's 'Pete the Moose' cheat death

Image caption, David Lawrence has raised 'Pete the Moose' since he was a calf

An online campaign has helped sway Vermont lawmakers to overturn a decision made last summer to cull a moose nicknamed Pete.

The moose had been ordered killed or removed from a game preserve out of fear it could help spread disease to other animals.

Opposition voiced via a website, a Facebook group and 10,000 views on YouTube helped prompt the turnaround.

"They wanted to kill Peter," said David Lawrence, who cares for the animal.

The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife originally said Pete, along with other moose and native deer, should not be mixing with farm-raised imported elk because tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease, a brain ailment, could be spread between the animals.

State lawmakers said the 700-acre (283-hectare) preserve - where the elk are kept for commercial trophy hunting - would have to close or the animals would have to be killed, though none of the animals on the preserve was carrying either of the diseases.

But after the strong outcry online, Vermont lawmakers compromised by designating Pete and the other animals on the game preserve a "special purpose herd", which meant they were no longer overseen by the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Preserve owner Doug Nelson was ordered to put up double fencing to ensure no animals can get into or out of the compound.

The measure should safeguard the wider native moose and deer population, although some state officials criticised the lawmakers' decision.

Mr Lawrence said: "It's the best I could've hoped for."

He has looked after Pete since the moose's mother and sibling were attacked by dogs when he was only a few days old.

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