Alaska city moose count relies on tips, DNA-extracting darts

Tuesday, March 6th 2018, 7:20 am AKST
Brad Bodde
Brad Bodde
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Alaska moose biologists are experimenting with a new way to survey moose in the state's largest city.

The Department of Fish and Game over three days appealed to residents to call or text whenever they saw a moose in Anchorage. 

Teams with dart guns then hurried to the sites to fire darts that extract DNA. 

The heavy darts strike the moose and feel like a bee sting. A needle on the dart tip extracts a tiny skin sample. 

Research biologist Sean Farley says the department can't do traditional aerial moose surveys in the city of about 300,000 because of flight restrictions. 

Capturing DNA allows the department to identify individual moose and their offspring. 

The DNA analysis and future tracking of those moose will let biologists make more accurate population estimates. 

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