Secure our pets; protect our wildlife

Posted: Friday, May 20, 2005

Anyone who's spent much time outdoors recently has likely been lucky enough to spot some of the cutest critters around, newborn moose calves.

These gangly, wide-eyed babies are certainly fun to watch as they scamper along behind their mothers, curiously watching with the rest of us as spring unfolds across the peninsula.

Now is a good time for a quick reminder that these animals are also very vulnerable and should be given plenty of distance.

That means people should keep a safe distance away. Getting near moose calves can be extremely hazardous to your health, as mothers are quite protective of their babies and will attack when they feel threatened.

More importantly, it means people should keep their pets under control. Every year, dogs off their leashes are responsible for harassing and even killing moose calves.

Fish and Game biologists, whose job it is to look out for wild animals, are not tolerant of stray dogs. They can and will shoot domestic animals they find harassing wildlife, often with little hesitation.

Such was the case in Anchorage May 7, when a state biologist shot and killed two dogs for harassing a pregnant moose. After inflicting injury on the moose — they bit her nose and tore it open, ripped her ear and slashed her haunches — the dogs retreated. But not for long. The attack was repeated until the biologist did what he thought was safest.

The fact is, agitated wildlife may not be able to defend themselves against a pack of wound up dogs, but they certainly can charge the next animal — or worse yet, person — who crosses their path. Now imagine if that person was a child on their way to school.

There definitely are ways to avoid this situation all together.

Please do everything you can to give moose and other wildlife plenty of distance. Let's keep our wild animals, our pets and ourselves safe this summer.

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