Saturday, December 7, 2013
Jack Milton/Staff Photographer: Soren, 3, and Talia Lloyd, 6, of Rockville, Maryland, look at a new display at L.L. Bean in Freeport Monday, August 17, 2009, of two moose who died with their antlers locked. The moose were found by a woman in New Sweden in 2005.
The questions from children were the most fun -- as were the answers.
''They got stuck because they were fighting. It's not good to fight,'' said Soren Lloyd, 3, of Rockville, Md.
Soren was mesmerized by the exhibit of two moose locked in battle that went up last weekend in L.L. Bean's flagship store.
The rare mounted moose drew a crowd last Monday.
There only are two known locked-antler, full-body moose displays in North America, said outdoor educator Emily Jones with the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department has the other.
And that is precisely why L.L. Bean chose to foot the bill for this display when contacted by the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife in 2006, after the department inherited an unusual pair of locked antlers three years ago.
''It's extremely rare. New Hampshire's is smaller. They were extremely supportive, and helpful in the work,'' Jones said.
The real-life portrait also is unusual in that it depicts something that does not happen often in the wild. Moose do not typically lock antlers in full-out combat.
''It's rare. Moose don't often fight. Mostly, they just knock antlers. That's pretty common to see, if you spend any time in the north woods,'' said Jones, who has hunted near Fort Kent.
The museum-like display cost L.L. Bean $50,000 for the taxidermy work alone, said Mac McKeever, L.L. Bean's senior public relations representative.
It all started with the generosity of a woman in Aroostook County.
In May 2006, Adella Johnson was walking along her property in New Sweden when she saw an unusual image in a marshy area: Two enormous interlocked moose antlers and the remains of the creatures that were bound by them.
Johnson called the Maine Warden Service, and -- knowing how rare the find was -- did the only thing that was fitting, in her mind. Johnson donated the massive interlocked antlers to the state for education.
Generous as that gift was, the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife was ill equipped to do the amazing antlers justice. So it partnered with L.L. Bean.
''If we were doing this on our own, we would not be at this point. We'd still be scrambling,'' Jones said of the elaborate project.
The result was the tedious work of Gray taxidermist Mark Dufresne, who placed the battling moose in a mossy field of stumps and dead trees to match the boggy location where Johnson found the antlers.
''The state came to us in the spirit of education and their interpretive mission, and we said, 'Absolutely,''' McKeever said. ''What better way to bring to life one of Maine's most endearing icons?''
The sizes of the antlers suggest that the moose, which became locked in fall 2005, each weighed between 800 and 1,000 pounds, Jones said.
The display will travel periodically in a custom-fitted trailer purchased by L.L. Bean.
The first trip for the display will be to the Fryeburg Fair Oct. 4 to 11.
But when the department is not bringing them to public events, Maine's locked-antler moose will forever be on display -- housed in a location that is open 24 hours, no less.
So the hundreds of thousands of customers who make the pilgrimage to L.L. Bean in Freeport can view a lesson in nature, one that certainly is memorable and, perhaps, immeasurable.
As Leslie Lloyd of Maryland fielded questions from her two young children, she smiled at their enthusiasm.
Her son and 7-year-old daughter never took their eyes off the two imposing moose.
''I couldn't take them to a museum, especially the 3-year-old. He doesn't have the attention span,'' Lloyd said. ''There is no way he'd leave the beach. But if I told him I'll buy him a present, he'll come here. Right now, they're not bored at all.''
Staff Writer Deirdre Fleming can be contacted at 791-6452 or at: