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(Anchorage) — Alaskans from Homer to Anchorage, Palmer and beyond have reported encounters with aggressive moose in recent weeks. That’s not unusual for this time of year, wildlife biologists say, when moose grow tired and cranky from the rigors of a long winter.
“Moose are just barely making it through winter right now,” said Anchorage Area Wildlife Biologist Dave Battle. “They’re nutritionally stressed, tired, and irritable. We need to keep our distance and by all means resist the temptation to feed them.”
Feeding moose is illegal and a leading precursor to many attacks. When neighborhood moose are fed, the chances they may become aggressive are greatly increased. Moose with a history of unprovoked attacks will likely be shot by Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff or law enforcement to protect public safety. In addition, moose don’t adjust easily to new foods, so anything people feed them will probably do more harm than good. Thus, feeding a moose is more likely to contribute to its death than benefit the animal.
Not all ornery moose have received handouts. Ordinary encounters with people, pets, and automobiles this time of year are compounded by stresses associated with a long winter. To stay safe, biologists advise people to be alert and give moose plenty of space in all situations. When encountered on trails, don’t try to pressure moose to leave; instead, walk far around them or turn and go back the way you came. Also, keep pets inside or on a leash if moose are in the yard or encountered on local streets or trails.
“Moose can act out defensively when they encounter loose dogs,” said Battle, adding that retreating dogs have been known to create dangerous situations by drawing angry moose back to owners.
People who encounter aggressive moose around their homes or in areas frequented by the public are asked to contact the nearest Alaska Department of Fish and Game office on weekdays during regular office hours. Outside office hours, or in the case of a public safety threat, call 911 or the Alaska Wildlife Troopers.
For more about moose safety, see http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livewith.aggressivemoose.