Don't feed the wild animals

Don't do something with a moose that you wouldn't do with a brown bear.

That's the advice from Larry Lewis, a wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, and it includes feeding moose, no matter how much we want to help.

"People are generally well-meaning, but it's absolutely essential to give these animals lots of room, and respect them as the wild animals they are," Lewis said.

Lewis said the Soldotna Fish and Game office has been getting a constant stream of calls from people regarding moose. Moose are highly stressed after wading through deep snow all winter, and many are wandering into neighborhoods and around town, where they can walk on plowed roads -- the path of least resistance, as Lewis put it.

While it's human nature to want to help these creatures with an easy meal, feeding them, or approaching and petting them, is a death sentence for the animal. The animal loses its fear of people, and will approach people looking for a food reward. It can become aggressive, and when its behavior escalates, the situation becomes dangerous for both the moose and people.

It doesn't do the moose any good, and what's more, is illegal.

Lewis said he responded to a call earlier this week about aggressive moose in a yard. When he arrived, he found several young moose had been up on a porch and pushing on a front door. That's not normal moose behavior, he said, and indicated to him that someone had been feeding them.

One of the moose had ingested half of a plastic picnic table cover, something that would eventually lead to its death. Lewis determined that the animal needed to be put down, but in the process, also put down a second aggressive moose.

"Everybody's hearts go out to these animals. We hate to see them starve, but it's part of the natural process," Lewis said.

Lewis also recommended taking extra measures to make sure pets are safe -- a moose spooked by a loose dog down the road may decide to take it out on the next dog it comes across, even if that owner has the animal properly restrained.

While we're on the subject of safety around wild animals, it's a good time for a reminder that the Kenai Peninsula's bear population will be waking up soon, if some bears haven't already. Lewis said the department is getting calls about bears in the Seward area.

That means it's time to look around our yards and secure any attractants -- bird feeders, pet or livestock feed, trash, freezers -- that may draw in a hungry bear looking for an easy meal.

Because, even with the best intentions, fed wild animals become dead wild animals.

In short: Feeding wild animals creates a dangerous situation for animals and people. It doesn't help the wild animal, and it's illegal. Concerns and questions about moose or bears can be directed to Fish and Game staff in Soldotna at 907-262-9368.

More

Sat, 01/21/2017 - 23:42

What others say: Obama took right tack on Cuba

There’s no solution to the half-century old Cuba problem that will satisfy everyone, but we strongly believe President Obama made the right decision to end the troubled “wet foot, dry foot” policy.

Read more

What others say: Obama’s legacy a mixed one

President Barack Obama leaves office Friday after eight years as the most consequential Democrat to occupy the White House since Lyndon Johnson. And unlike that Texan, whose presidency was born in tragedy and ended in failure, Obama will not have the ghost of the Vietnam War haunting his days and eating his conscience as LBJ did all the remaining days of his life.

Read more

Op-ed: Trump won the news conference

Donald Trump should do press conferences more often. Not for the country’s sake, certainly not for the media’s sake, but for his. He really shouldn’t have waited 167-plus days to hold one, because the man gives great sound bite. Although I’ve participated in probably thousands of these staged encounters as a reporter, they’re not my favorite way of getting news — you almost never get any. The guy at the podium controls the proceeding. He can get his message out with little challenge from the assembled journalists who are limited to a question and a follow-up, maybe. Politicians can bob and weave through that without any of us landing a blow. And that’s our job: to penetrate the canned responses to their version of the controversy du jour and get at whatever truth they are hiding. Besides, Trump — who uses contempt for the media as a weapon, his preferred way to discredit reporting that displeases him —has a wonderful forum to do that. At the very least he should hold these confrontations as a supplement to his Twitter tirades. And frequently. It’s his opportunity to hold the media hostage as they cover live his rain of abuse on them.

Read more

Good luck in Juneau

The 30th Alaska Legislature gavels in on Tuesday, and we’d like to take a moment to wish our Kenai Peninsula legislators good luck over the coming months in Juneau.

Read more