Ungulates wander closer to people, pets in search of winter food

Moose browsing for trouble

Posted: Tuesday, February 27, 2007

 

  A moose stretched for a bite in front of a house in Soldotna on Sunday. As winter wears on and browse gets increasingly scarce, moose are driven into closer proximity with people and pets in search of food. Photo by Jenny Neyman

A moose stretched for a bite in front of a house in Soldotna on Sunday. As winter wears on and browse gets increasingly scarce, moose are driven into closer proximity with people and pets in search of food.

Photo by Jenny Neyman

Valentine’s Day is typically a time for love, but an arrow shot into a moose in Kenai on Feb. 14 wasn’t fired with friendly intentions and definitely didn’t come from Cupid.

“She was obviously hurting,” said Larry Lewis with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, in regard to an adult cow found with a point projectile sticking out of her side.

A Kenai resident surveying some property called in to report the injured moose. Lewis responded and found the moose at 745 Setnet Drive in the VIP subdivision.

“When we found her we could tell right away she was hurting. The arrow was back in her stomach, embedded deep, and with every breath she took you could see it move,” he said.

Believing there wasn’t much he could do to save the moose, Lewis used his shotgun to kill the suffering animal. He then called a local charity to collect the meat and contacted Alaska State Troopers from the Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement to further investigate the incident. By following a trail of blood and dripping rumen contents Lewis was able to backtrack to where the moose had been shot.

From there, “We were able to narrow it down to a few houses where we started talking to people to find out if anybody knew anything about the incident,” said Lt. Steve Bear with the Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement.

William McLeod, 57, of Kenai, turned himself in for the crime, which he claimed was an accident.

According to Bear, McLeod said he shot the moose in an attempt to dissuade the animal from threatening his pet dog. Bear said McLeod told him he had removed the tip of the arrow with the intent of scaring off the animal, not hurting it.

Lewis confirmed there was no point on the arrow when he removed the shaft from the dead moose.

“Unfortunately, though, he hit it in the stomach area, where there’s not a lot of meat, so the arrow just sailed right in,” Bear said.

Bear added that troopers believe McLeod’s story, since he turned himself in and seemed emotionally distraught about what had happened.

“We don’t feel poaching was in any way McLeod’s intent, but we can’t forget about it either, so he will be charged with taking a cow moose out of season,” Bear said.

But Bear said McLeod could get a reduced sentence, given the circumstances.

“It all depends on the judge, but it showed character for him to come in and take responsibility for what happened, and considering all the facts, it shouldn’t be the same as if he had intentionally poached it and been turned in,” he said.

Lewis said this isn’t the first moose this season to mysteriously show up with an embedded arrow.

“This is my second one in two weeks,” he said.

On Feb. 2 Lewis was able to tranquilize a moose in Kasilof and remove an arrow from its side.

“It was a blunt-tip arrow that hit that moose in the ribs, so there was no internal damage,” he said.

Lewis said he suspects the two incidents happening so close together may be a sign of the season.

This is the time of year moose are “getting edgy” because many have depleted much of their winter fat reserves and are looking for food wherever they can find it, which often brings them into close contact with humans and their domestic animals, Lewis said.

“The best thing people can do to create a safe situation for everyone is to keep their dogs under control, and to keep all garbage and animal food cleaned up and stored away,” he said.

Lewis also advised that arrows should not be used to scare away moose.

“Arrows have lethal potential and should not be shot with archery equipment unless the intention is to kill an animal during hunting season,” he said.

Instead, Lewis advised anyone having problems with pushy moose to contact Fish and Game.

“Just give us a call. We’re here to help,” he said.

For more information, call the Soldotna office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 262-9368.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@ peninsulaclarion.com.



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