Biologists warn: Watch out for cold, hungry moose
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is warning people to be extra cautious around moose this winter. The animals are cold, hungry and abundant in Anchorage.
Wintertime draws more moose into town than any other season, according to Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle. This is partially because the city has cleared trails and roads, which make moving around easier.
But this time of year can be a tough time for moose, which spend most of their days looking for something to eat. Battle said for many, it’s a struggle.
“They mostly are browsing on woody twigs and there’s just not a lot of nutrition in it," he said.
As a result, moose are losing weight and feeling hungry, which doesn’t make them happy.
“Just like people get hangry, you know, moose, the same thing can happen to them," Battle said. "When they aren’t getting enough to eat, they’ll get a bit shorter fuses.”
But feeding moose, even with the best intentions, is not a good option. In fact, Battle said it’s the worst thing you can do.
“If you start to feed a moose, whether you are doing it by hand or you are just leaving something out for it, moose will start to defend that food source," he said. "If they come up to another person that doesn’t have a carrot for them they will become aggressive. If a bait pile is left out for them they will start defending that and if anybody comes near it they will charge aggressively.”
The department hasn’t gotten an exceptional number of aggressive moose reports this winter, although biologists did have to put one down last week after it refused to stop charging people at an apartment complex in Spenard.
Being aware of body language can help people determine if a moose is getting anxious, according to Battle. He said the best thing to do if a moose charges is run and try to get behind a solid object like a tree or car.
“Watch for their ears to go back, the hair on their hump to come up, start to licking their lips," he said. "Licking their lips is a sign that they are starting to get too nervous and you should put some space between you and them.”
People with concerns about moose can file an online report with Fish and Game or call them directly at 907-267-2253. If a wild animal poses an immediate threat, it's best to call 911.
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