BELMONT — For Frank Hannon, it was a typical early summer day as he mowed the grass at his Village Hill Road home. But as he finished up the front lawn, he was stopped cold by a silhouette. A big one.
It was a moose. And although Hannon didn’t know it at the time, it was already famous, the subject of videos and photographs as it loped through Watertown and Belmont.
“Nothing seemed to be bothering it,” said Hannon, 65. “It looked like it was just out for a Sunday stroll.”
Here’s the thing that struck Hannon and other residents who rarely if ever see a moose in the wild, much less in densely populated surburbia: They are large creatures.
Pointing to a vehicle down the street from his house, he said, “It was taller than that Jeep.”
Ripsime Guyumdzhyan, who lives on the same street, said she saw the moose twice, once from her car and again on foot.
“At first I didn’t believe my eyes,” she said. “I thought, maybe, I was dreaming.”
The female moose, believed to be about 2 years old, caused a stir during its two-town jaunt, even earning its own Twitter handle, @TheBelmontMoose.
The State Environmental Police called off the search at 3 p.m., losing track of the animal after it left Hannon’s Belmont neighborhood and ventured into the woods.
The moose was first spotted on Waverley Avenue on the west side of Watertown, then ran into Belmont, according to Watertown Police Detective Lieutenant James O’Connor.
“Obviously this is a very unique situation, a moose in an environment like Watertown,” he said. “Definitely out of the ordinary.”
Belmont and Watertown police both posted videos of the moose’s trip. In the Watertown video, the moose’s hooves clack audibly on the Waverley Avenue sidewalk.
Belmont Police Assistant Chief James MacIsaac said the moose made itself known on Bartlett Avenue at 6:04 a.m. near the Pequossette field. Police monitored it during its journey, before letting Environmental Police take over the chase.
“He was in and out of the woods,’’ MacIsaac said. “We don’t have any reports of damage. It’s not bothering anybody.’’
Later in the morning, the animal was spotted heading into woods on Concord Avenue near the intersection with Somerset Street. It was last seen near Village Hill Road.
Marion Larson, chief of information and education for the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, said the moose likely wandered into the area at night, woke up, and realized it was in an unfamiliar place.
“The usual protocol that is followed … is to just leave the moose alone, make sure that people are not bothering it,” Larson said. “The moose can find its way out.”
Massachusetts residents are often surprised to learn that moose live in the state, she said. They used to be a rare sight until the 1980s, when the moose population rebounded due to hunting restrictions and conservation efforts.
About 30 years ago, they moved into northern Worcester and Middlesex counties and bred and dispersed through Central and Western Massachusetts. While it is possible for moose to wander into residential areas unaware of their surroundings, it is uncommon to see them so deep in Greater Boston, Larson said.
She said Wednesday’s sighting is a possible sign that moose populations are expanding.
“It’s certainly an interesting testament to the adaptability of moose,” Larson said. “Who would expect to see moose in the third-most densely populated state in the country?”
It’s not the first moose sighting in recent history in the Boston metro area. Twenty years ago this month, a 500-pound moose was spotted traversing Brookline and Newton.
Early this morning, a juvenile moose was observed running around the west end of Watertown and was followed into Belmont. The Environmental Police were notified and responded. Video courtesy of Officer Lam and Lt C MungerPosted by Watertown Police Department on Wednesday, June 1, 2016