Aggressive Moose in Urban Areas of Alaska
The Alaska Wildlife Troopers and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) are receiving numerous calls regarding aggressive or “fearless” moose in urban areas. Deep snow restricts moose movements and limits food availability. Higher than normal numbers of moose are appearing on roadways, trails, school yards, parking lots, and other locations where snow has been removed. These moose are not easily driven off or avoided. Additionally, during a winter like this when potential food resources are limited, moose can be nutritionally stressed and become very agitated and aggressive.
Two people in the Mat-Su Valley were injured this week in confrontations with aggressive moose, reinforcing the importance of giving these large and potentially dangerous animals plenty of room when encountered. ADF&G wants to emphasize that people should use extra caution and stay alert when outdoors in any area that has or could have moose present. Most moose in the Mat-Su and Anchorage spend the winter in the valley bottoms where most people live, work, and play. Until the snow levels decrease in late spring, the moose that summer in the mountains will not be able to leave.
ADF&G biologists want to remind the public to not approach moose, crowd moose, intentionally feed moose, or get between a cow and its calf. Feeding or providing food to moose is very dangerous, especially if it is done near homes and inhabited areas where people will come into contact with them. It is also illegal. The diversionary feeding conducted by the Alaska Moose Federation (through a special permit issued by ADF&G) is intended to improve public safety. These activities are not done near human inhabited areas. In addition, trails leading away from roads to areas with natural foods are being packed down to give moose a place to stand off the road that does not have deep snow with the intent of reducing moose-vehicle collisions.
To help avoid conflicts:
- Moose may be territorial of snow free areas — give moose a wide berth when possible.
- If there are problems with moose bedding down around entry ways and parking areas, it is advisable to clear more snow from the area — this will help you see the moose more easily to be able to avoid them.
- Moose may become less weary of people and aggressive when and if they associate people with food — this is why it is unsafe, inappropriate, and illegal for the public to feed moose.
- Cutting down trees and feeding moose for any reason may attract more moose that may not leave the area for a long time — the increased number of moose will increase the potential of encountering an aggressive moose.
- Do not allow moose access to your hay! One of the most frequent complaints in the Mat-Su Valley is moose getting into hay that people have stored for feeding their horses or other livestock. When moose locate this food source and have access to it, they don’t easily give it up.