EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska --
Large amounts of accumulated snow and uncharacteristic rainfall in the past few weeks have caused moose in the local area to exhibit unusually aggressive behavior toward people and pets, warns the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
ADF&G says moose are stressed from dealing with inclement weather and are struggling to find enough easily accessible food during cold weather, with many using plowed trails and roads more than normal in an effort to avoid walking through deep snow. The department urged residents to exercise extreme caution when encountering moose this winter.
“Everyone should be extra cautious this winter when out on trails, walking to school, or recreating,” warned Tony Hollis, Fairbanks Area wildlife biologist. “Moose will be on the [roads and] trails and should be given plenty of space. Kids walking to and from school in the dark should be especially careful and should have a backup plan if a moose blocks their way.”
Aside from affording moose extra space, residents are advised to keep dogs on leashes or under control, and avoid feeding moose or attempting to scare them away. Moose have been known to attack vehicles, snowmachines, and people who are trying to scare them out of the way. Moose do not react to yelling, shooting, and other loud noises the way other wildlife react, commonly charging toward the source of the noise. Such encounters are also likely to further stress the already overwhelmed animals.
“This is going to be a very tough winter for moose, especially with the deep snow and crust from the rain we had at the end of December,” said Hollis. “We don’t expect many of the calves to survive the winter but are hopeful the adults will be able to make it through.”
If one were to encounter a moose this winter, ADF&G recommends leaving it alone and giving it plenty of space. The department suggests moose with obvious severe injuries such as broken limbs, or those that have been lying in the same place for more than 24 hours should be reported to a local ADF&G office. Contact information by location can be found here.