NEW YORK (MainStreet) — It's that time of year in Vermont — when parturient cow moose make their yearlings leave home, and the young animals wander out of the wilderness and into populated areas.

Authorities generally try to coax the creatures away from people and cars, back into the woods; recently, in the course of tracking one moose out of downtown Burlington, police hit a drug-war jackpot, coming across a shed containing 32 marijuana plants.

"Moose do crazy things," observed Col. Dave LeCours, chief warden of the state Fish and Wildlife Department, speaking to New England Cable News. Like narc on citizens cultivating cannabis in the privacy of their own property, apparently. Vermont has a reputation as a left-wing sort of state; could its wildlife secretly be made up of law-and-order types?

The cops got a search warrant and arrested a 29-year-old for marijuana possession. This is the first moose-assisted drug bust the police can remember.

According to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, Vermont had the fourth-fewest arrests for marijuana possession of any U.S. state in 2010, with a rate of 119 busts per 100,000 residents. Only Massachusetts, Hawaii, and Alabama came in lower. Last Wednesday, the Vermont legislature passed a bill expanding access to medical marijuana and calling for a study of the revenue-generating potential of legalizing the drug.

It's been suggested that a moose sighting is a sign of good luck, but Vermonters engaged in any illegal activity may want to be careful if they spot an errant elk; it could bring the heat in its wake.

—Written by Eamon Murphy for MainStreet