‘They’re basically ‘hangry’’: Alaska Department of Fish and Game asks for the public to watch for moose but to leave them alone
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - One of Alaska’s favorite animals is once again moving around a lot more these days. Like every year around this time, Alaska Department of Fish and Game Anchorage area wildlife biologist Dave Battle says the moose are on the move and they’re getting more calls about nuisance cases.
Battle said this time of year usually has more moose sightings and nuisance reports because the herbivores are making it to the end of winter and they are looking for something to eat. He said they can be moody creatures.
“They’re basically ‘hangry,’” Battle said. “They’ve gone through the winter, they don’t have hardly any nutrition and are just trying to make it through. Their fuses are a little bit short.”
Right now, he said the weather is contributing more to their activity because of all the snow that’s been getting dumped on Southcentral Alaska.
“Moose are basically up on stilts. So they’re made to go through deeper snow,” he said. “But it only goes so far. Once snow starts getting to a certain level they don’t want to flounder through it. So you’ll see them a lot more on the roads and the trails and they’ll be getting out in the way of cars because of the deep snow.”
Since they’re already so famished, he said they are trying to take advantage of the path of least resistance. So they’re more apt to travel on the roadways and trails that humans clear for themselves.
This adds to the always-present need to watch out for moose on Alaska roads.
“If you see them out on the side of the road, don’t just zoom right passed them at the same speed you were going. Slow down. Give them some space,” Battle said. “If you see cars up ahead of you slowed down or stopped, don’t get in the other lane and zoom passed them. Stop and see what they’re seeing. Very often a moose is crossing the road in front of them.”
He added that drivers who see one moose should always look for a second one. Especially when it’s a cow walking through the road who could very likely have a calf trailing behind her.
And although they are of the most beloved animals in the state, they are still wild animals — massive ones at that. Battle implores the public not to feed moose in any fashion.
“If you leave food out for them they will lock into that food source and they will defend it if anyone walks passed,” he said. “Moose are very bad to charge people off their food sources. We have seen people actually hand-feeding moose, and the moose will seem very tame whenever they’re doing it. But the next person that comes by that doesn’t have a carrot gets stomped.”
Those moose end up becoming problems according to Battle, and then Fish and Game usually have to come out to put the animal down. Additionally, he said most of the things that people would feed a moose from their house are not meant to be in a moose’s digestive system. So feeding them could lead to internal problems as well as behavioral ones.
So while they are walking around looking for food, Battle said just admire them from a distance. If one starts to become a problem, like hanging out in your yard and not leaving, give Fish and Game a call. They’ll get plenty of food once the Spring starts.
Copyright 2021 KTUU. All rights reserved.