Interior Alaska residents experience moose attacks after winter storms

Published: Jan. 10, 2022 at 5:03 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Due to a combination of heavy snowfall and rain, many moose are migrating to plowed and hard packed terrain to avoid the deep snow.

According to the Department of Fish and Game, this has led moose in the Interior to grow anxious and even hostile, which residents like Jasmine Paneak experienced first hand.

“His front hoof hit my leg as I moved out of the way, just barely clipping it,” Paneak recalled. “I fell in front of my car, scrambled to the passenger seat, and then crawled into my car. He stood there for a long time, and he was just kind of staring right at me. He wasn’t staring at the car, he was staring at me - and I was hyperventilating and freaking out. The only time I’d have ever seen a moose was like outside my window.”

But while Paneak walked away relatively unscathed, unfortunately the same cannot be said for Stormie Mitchell. She suffered severe injuries as she attempted to enter her home in the Delta Junction Area.

“I turned around, and next thing I remember is a great big bang in the back of my head,” Mitchell explained. “Evidently, she must have knocked me out because she stomped on my hand, my right hand. It’s black and blue all the way through, and it crushed some bones. Then she also stomped on my knee and the big bone underneath my knee. All the doctors tell me that I was lucky to be alive and that they had never seen breaks the way that I’m broke up - and they’re the ones that put it together that she stomped on me because I don’t remember her stomping on me.”

Mitchell continued, “I’m lucky I’m retired and don’t have to go to work every day. I’m glad that it happened to me and not somebody else, this would have really affected somebody’s livelihood. I can imagine how devastating it would be on somebody that is working day to day, and if they got hit like I did.”

According to Tony Hollis, Fairbanks Area Wildlife Biologist for the Department of Fish and Game, there are signs when a moose is becoming aggravated. “When a moose gets aggressive, it generally lays its ears back. The hackles on its neck, the hair on its neck will stand up, and you can visibly see they’re aggressive. But, they can change from not looking aggressive to aggressive looking real fast. So the best thing to do is to keep as much space between the moose and yourself.”

For the time being, Fish and Game advises residents to give moose a wide berth and to be patient with them, as attempts to chase them off or scare them could cause a moose to attack.

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