Don’t Feed the Moose’s

mooseIn Anchorage, Alaska, residents’ trash is becoming more of moose’s treasure. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game currently reported that the moose activity of rummagin through for food has steadily grown in the past 15 years.

March and April are usually the worst months because the winter food supply in the wild grows scarce and hungry moose trod into the city in numbers.

Moose can be like humans, moose often turn grumpy when hungry, and if there isn’t any food around when they come looking, they’re more likely to lash out at people.

Moose’s aren’t more dangerous than bears, but they can be a greater threat of injuring you due to their population size. Moose outnumber bears nearly three to one in Alaska, injuring five to 10 people in Alaska annually. That’s more than grizzly bear and black bear attacks combined according to Smith.

Moose is the largest species of the deer family, Alaskan moose are the biggest in the world. But their size betrays their generally passive demeanor. Feeding off plants and tree bark, these herbivores munch on willows, birches and grasses by the pound. During the harsh winter, when moose can’t find their natural foods, Anchorage watches the garbage-seeking moose population inflate to around 1,000.

So when does Bullwinkle start bullying you? In September and October is when moose attacks spikes because of the mating season. Early spring mothers are protecting their young calves so they can be aggressive. However, moose often do not confront people unless they are provoked. For that reason, it’s important to not throw anything at moose and keep any dogs away from them.

As mentioned earlier, feeding a moose can also make them more dangerous. When their stomach starts talking, and they instinctually return to a place where they were once given food, they may attack if the food isn’t there again. To lower the chance of food-related attacks, Alaska has made moose feeding a crime its a $110 fine.

Moose can outrun humans at top speeds, most of the times, they won’t chase you far if you run away from them. If you’re not fast enough, and a moose knocks you down, don’t fight back. Curl into the fetal position and cover your head with your arms. Trying to move or beat it off will only cause the moose to continue kicking and stomping you.

Tell Tale Sign of Aggressiveness
Here’s some cues when a moose may charge at you, if you notice its hairs raised, head down and ears back, that’s your cue to hightail it in the opposite direction. And when a moose licks its lips, that doesn’t mean it finds you attractive. That’s your signal to run.

How Moose Size Up in the Animal Kingdom
Taller than a horse — 5 to 6.5 feet tall (1.5 to 2.0 meters) from ground to shoulder.
Heavier than a bear — male moose, called bulls, weigh up to 1,500 pounds (680 kilograms).
Faster than a kangaroo — moose run up to 35 miles per hour (56 kilometers per hour).

[source: Alaska Department of Transportation]. From 1996 to 2006, 17 people died from moose-related car crashes [source: Alaska Department of Transportation].

These accidents happen in spite of many efforts to keep moose off the Alaskan roads. About 130 moose die each year from car crashes in Anchorage alone [source: CBS News].

Driver awareness, following traffic laws and using high-beam headlights at night can likely reduce your chances of a moose crash.

Cristen Conger –
Alaska Department of Fish & Game. “Moose Increasingly Attracted to Urban Garbage.” March 25, 2008. (April 7, 2008)
Alaska Department of Fish & Game. “What to Do About Aggressive Moose.” (April 7, 2008)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources. “Bears and You.” Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Updated March 24, 2008. (April 7, 2008)
Alaska Department of Natural Resources. “Common Sense Survival.” Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation. Updated March 24, 2008. (April 7, 2008)
CBS News. “Alaska’s Urban Moose Adjust to Heavy Snow.” Jan. 31, 2007. (April 7, 2008)
CNN. “Worst states for auto-deer crashes.” Nov. 14, 2006. (April 7, 2008)
DuFresne, Jim and Spitzer, Aaron. “Lonely Planet Alaska.” Lonely Planet. 2006. (April 7, 2008)
National Parks Service. “Bear, Moose & Wolf Warnings.” (April 7, 2008),%20Moose,%20Wolf%20Warnings.pdf
Smith, Dave. “Don’t Get Eaten: The Dangers of Animals that Charge or Attack.” 2003. The Mountaineering Books. (April 4, 2008),M1
Stadem, Catherine. “Moose in Our Midst.” Alaska. 1994. (April 4, 2008)