Moose carcasses starting to pile up

Posted: Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Moose carcasses tend to litter the ditches of back roads this time of year, often with ropes still cinched tightly around their necks.

Although the remains might look like the work of an off-season, serial ungulate strangler, more likely the moose died of starvation near a dwelling and the property owner dragged the emaciated critter off to decompose away from their door step.

Which is exactly what a home owner should do with a moose that goes hooves up on their property.

"It's the home owner's responsibility if an animal dies on their property to dispose of it," said Larry Lewis, wildlife technician with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Disposing of a moose carcass on a back road is legal. However, for sanitation's sake and to avoid attracting predators and scavengers to areas where people live, make sure to leave the carcass at least a mile in every direction away from any occupied dwelling, and, if possible, drag the carcass off the roadside into the woods.

"Put it back into the system. It's a natural thing. There are plenty of dead moose lying around (in the woods)," Lewis said.

Moose carcasses also can be disposed of at landfills.

If property owners decide to go this route, however, they should report the action to Fish and Game for their own protection.

"It looks a little suspicious driving around with a moose in the back of your truck," Lewis said.

Regardless of how a carcass is disposed, Fish and Game encourages the public to report all moose starvation deaths. The reports provide the department with anecdotal evidence as to how the moose population is faring through winter.

Whatever a person does with the remains of a moose that has died of starvation, the one thing not to do is eat any part of the animal. The meat is not fit for human consumption and also should not be fed to dogs or other domestic animals.

"The internal organs tend to break down and fill the body with toxins," Lewis said.

The toxins can make both people and their pets sick.

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