Moose get OK to be moved

Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2004

JUNEAU -- Nuisance moose could get an airlift out of Anchorage under a bill that passed the House on Monday.

The bill would let state-approved groups tranquilize and remove urban moose that are considered a nuisance and relocate them to the Bush. There, they could potentially be harvested by subsistence hunters in areas where moose are scarce.

''It will benefit both urban and rural Alaska and the moose,'' said Rep. Nancy Dahlstrom, R-Eagle River.

Under the bill sponsored by Anchorage Republican Sen. Con Bunde, moose that ''pose a significant risk to the health, safety or economic well-being of persons in the area'' could be tranquilized and moved.

The bill passed 25-9 after being amended to require that all tranquilizing darts used in the relocation be retrieved. Opponents of the bill had argued the narcotic used was so powerful that a drop on the skin could kill a human.

Rep. Kelly Wolf, R-Kenai, argued against the bill, saying his understanding was that the nonprofit group that wants to do the work would be using a federal grant, which he thought could be better spent for other purposes.

Instead, he suggested, nuisance moose could be fed to people at urban soup kitchens.

The bill lets the Department of Fish and Game authorize groups to move moose if they can relocate them without undue danger to the public, themselves or the moose. The bill would relieve the state from liability from any damage or costs that arise in the relocation.

The nonprofit Alaska Moose Federation has proposed moving the animals at its own expense. Several lawmakers said they are members of the Moose Federation's board.

Fish and Game biologists would determine whether a moose is a nuisance and where it would be taken.

Supporters of the bill said aggressive moose endanger children, and moose in urban areas cause hundreds of automobile accidents each year.

Rep. Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, voted for the bill.

But he noted: ''This is Alaska, and I'm not sure the moose are the one who are the nuisances.''

The bill is slightly different from a version that earlier passed the Senate, so differences between the two will have to be settled by midnight today, when the Legislature is scheduled to adjourn.

The House also was scheduled to vote Monday on a bill letting the state enter agreements that could result in hundreds of new prison beds in Alaska.

The bill would require a proposed private prison in Whittier to compete with a proposal for a new state-run prison in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

No action had been taken on that bill by 7:45 p.m. Monday.

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