ANCHORAGE -- The moose poop was scattered 30 feet along the icy, sloping driveway. That's why Lee Carpenter noticed it Tuesday as he rumbled his big Arctic Express Towing and Recovery rig past a neighbor's house on Kantishna Drive in Eagle River just before it hits Monte Road.
''Hmmm,'' he thought, ''that's kind of an odd thing to use for traction.''
''Well, I guess technically it's wood chips when you think about it,'' Carpenter said later, thinking back on the start of his moose adventure.
The poop came from a yearling moose, barely visible, trapped under an empty snowmachine trailer hitched to a big blue van backed into the driveway.
Carpenter figures the moose foolishly climbed a small ice-covered hump of ground next to the driveway, looking to feed on a small patch of willow, then lost its footing and slid under the trailer, becoming wedged so tight that only its head could move.
''It was laying on its stomach with its feet curled up, stuck between the side frames of the trailer.''
Carpenter lives at the end of the street, where it turns into Lynne Drive. He's a friendly guy who laughs easily, maybe because he drives the kind of tow truck people are happy to see, not the kind that snatches away illegally parked cars. Anyhow, he wasn't going to just leave the moose.
His rig is the type with a long flatbed behind, so it was going to take some maneuvering to attempt a rescue. He called the Anchorage Police Department, and an officer showed up to make sure no one came barreling around the curve from Monte and scared the moose, not to mention Carpenter.
The houses on that side of Kantishna are set up on a slope, duplexes with lots of parking space in front. Carpenter was able to angle his truck so the tail hung above the trailer and the trapped moose. He hitched his cable to one side of the trailer and winched it up on edge.
The moose looked with big eyes but didn't move. ''He was so petrified,'' Carpenter said.
''And I'm sure he was exhausted. His legs wouldn't work right away.''
There was no blood, but the animal had a huge bald patch on its back from rubbing against the trailer while trying to escape. The next day, big clumps of white and brown hair were still frozen into the slush, fluttering in the afternoon breeze.
''After we coaxed him quite a bit,'' the moose got up, on its knees for a while, then on shaky legs. Carpenter and an officer rattled chains, trying to get the animal to move out from under the winched-up trailer.
After 10 minutes or so, the yearling wobbled slowly across the road. It stopped to pee, and pee and pee. Then it resumed what it had been doing before the fall cut into chow time: eating willow browse.
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