Sault Ste. Marie trucker comforts injured, dying moose on side of highway

Hunter Berto says animal was struck by several vehicles along Highwway 17, west of Thunder Bay

Hunter Berto had a unique experience on one of his long hauls earlier this week.

The transport truck driver from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., was travelling eastbound on Highway 17 from Winnipeg toward Thunder Bay, when he saw the truck in front of him brake.

“I began to slow down, and then as I approached I saw a moose off to the side of the road,” he told CBC’s Up North.

“It was struggling to get off the highway, like it was trying to crawl itself off with its front leg.”

Berto said he was able to pull over and then called the authorities to let them know about the injured animal.

“I didn’t want to see it suffer and I didn’t want to see it cause an accident,” he said.

While on the phone with the authorities they asked if he could stay in the area until they arrived.

Helping animal in final moments

Berto said once he got out of his truck he realized that part of the moose was still on the road. 

“People were actually running over its back legs.”

“So I tried to push [the moose] over as much as I could, because they’re heavy. And I just sat on the snowbank and it let me go right up to it,” he said.

Berto said the moose seemed a little worried when he first approached it. But he sat a little bit away and put his hand out and began to talk to the animal.

“I was [saying], ‘It’s okay. Stay calm.'”

“Then I just touched her snout and then she was okay‚Ķat that point, I went right up to her.”

Berto said he sat there with the injured animal with its head in his lap and continued to pet it.

He said he’s always felt close to animals, and has never been frightened or scared of them.

“You know, you can tell a lot by an animal, a person, anything, just by kind of looking into their eyes,” he said.

Once police arrived the animal was put down, and then the Ministry of Natural Resources disposed of the carcass.

He was told that despite other vehicles passing by, no one else had called about the injured animal.

“Who knows how long the moose had been there for. They could have helped it sooner.” 

More animal crossings needed

Berto calls the whole ordeal sad.

“[Moose] are supposed to be able to walk away from us,” he said.

“To be in that situation where she couldn’t help herself, or go anywhere was sad.”

As a truck driver, Berto said he sees a lot of dead animals on the side of highways, so he’d love to see more animal overpasses or bridges elsewhere similar to the one south of Sudbury.

“Luckily I’ve been fortunate, I’ve never hit an animal and I hope to keep it that way.”