Eielson, USFWS first responders rescue family from aggressive moose

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Beaux Hebert
  • 354th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Nature in Alaska can be beautiful, especially in the summer. But if you’re not careful, a walk in the park can turn into a dangerous situation.

An Airman and his family were taking in the sights on one of Eielson's nature trails. As they were walking, they startled a female moose and her calf. The mother moose took the family’s approach as a threat to her calf and charged the family several times. 

Moose can weigh up to 800 pounds and can be extremely territorial, so the family was in trouble. 

After the first charge, the Airmen quickly called 911 and spoke to SrA Precious Farrell, a 354th Security Forces Squadron alarm monitor, who, at the time, was working as the dispatch.

“We answered the call and the Airmen told us about how an aggressive moose was charging his family on the nature trail,” Farrell said. “It was a scary situation, but I knew I had to get them out of there as soon as possible.”

Farrell said the Airman on the phone was calm, something that is uncommon for an emergency situation. She also stressed the importance of calmly relaying vital information, such as location, the number of people involved and the reason for the call.

“My training kicked in and I tried to gather as much data as I could to pass along to our responding patrol,” Farrell said. “I had to put all my personal feelings and fears aside and focus on keeping them calm and figuring out the safest way to help.”

Once Farrell gathered the data from the Airman, she passed the information to her patrols in the area and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). 

SrA Alan Taylor, a 354th SFS response force leader, was one of the responding patrolmen. His job was to try and locate the moose and keep an eye on it while the rest of the team worked on getting the family to safety.

“I was in the middle of a speed enforcement and I got a call from our flight chief. She told me to stop whatever I was doing and to meet her at the natural resources building fast,” Taylor said. “I had no idea what to expect but I headed her way as fast as I could.”

Taylor arrived at the scene, got briefed on the situation and started his patrol looking for the moose. Simultaneously, USFWS Officer Zachary Arnold was called by dispatch to assist the situation.

“I was on my way from Fairbanks when I got the call and I rushed to the scene as fast and safe as I could,” Arnold said. “While I was on the way, I relayed to security forces for the family to get behind a tree or obstacle so the moose could not directly charge them.”

Arnold entered the trail to locate the family, armed with non-lethal “blank” ammunition to “haze” the moose away from the family. However, if that failed or the situation became more dangerous, he carried lethal ammunition as well.

“When I got to the family, the moose had moved on so we carefully started back toward the trail exit,” Arnold said. “As we approached the end of the trail, I was notified that the moose had circled around and was at the trail exit and it seemed like it didn’t want to move.”

Arnold utilized his blank ammo and was able to finally coerce the moose to move along.

At the end of the day, the Airman and his family were safe and no one, including the moose and her calf, were harmed.

“When out in nature it is vital to maintain situational awareness and keep your distance from wildlife,” Arnold said. “To avoid surprising wildlife, make noise such as talking or wearing a bell. And as a last line of defense, bear spray works on all animals and can save your life if a dangerous situation occurs.”

Airmen and their families come to Alaska seeking adventure in the vast wilderness, however they can sometimes get a little more than they bargained for. Luckily, our Airmen have our 354th SFS defenders and the USFWS who are always ready to protect and serve, humans and animals alike.