HAMMOND TOWNSHIP, Maine — A New Limerick man who died Friday afternoon when his snowmobile struck a bull moose on a snowmobile trail west of Houlton apparently had been traveling at a high rate of speed, according to a Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife press release.
Leon Botting Sr., 51, died after the collision on Shaw Camp Trail at approximately 2 p.m.
When Botting’s friends Brian Nickerson, 53, of Houlton and Mike Britton, 40, of New Limerick, who had been snowmobiling ahead of Botting on the trail, discovered Botting was not behind them, they went back to find him, according to Sgt. Dan Menard who investigated the accident.
Both Botting and the moose were thrown off the trail, and both died, according to the press release.
Menard said Saturday that wardens respond to reports of one or two moose-snowmobile accidents each winter. Snowmobilers should be wary while on trails, especially if they see lots of animal tracks in an area, because that means the animals are staying in that location, especially if the snow is deep, he said.
“If you’re looking around and you see tracks in the daytime, then they are probably not very far from that location,” he said.
Animals use the snowmobile trails to travel on because it’s easier walking or they use them to avoid predators, Menard said. The moose came across the trail and Botting was unable to stop because of his alleged high speed, he said. Menard said the moderate-size moose weighed 500 to 700 pounds.
“You just have to remember you don’t have any protection [on a snowmobile]. It’s not like a car; you don’t have a safety belt or an air bag, all you have is a helmet, and that helmet isn’t going to protect when you’re going too fast,” Menard said. Botting was wearing a helmet, he said.
Menard was assisted at the scene by Game Wardens Andrew Smart, Kevin Pelkey, Ben Drew, Alan Dudley and Eric Rudolph, and Houlton Fire and Rescue.