Alaska Moose Federation Winter Moose Relocation Project
Each winter collisions between motorists and moose injure or kill people, damage property and kill or injure moose. This winter near-record snowfall has led to an increase in moose-vehicle collisions throughout Southcentral Alaska. At the request of the Alaska Moose Federation (AMF), the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) has issued a permit authorizing AMF to capture moose from busy roads in Game Management Unit (GMU) 14 to relocate those moose away from roads from today, February 28, through March 31. This includes the Anchorage area, the Matanuska and Susitna Valley and the Trapper Creek area adjacent to Talkeetna. The total relocation effort is not likely to exceed 10 moose.
To capture the animals, AMF is contracting with the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service (APHIS), Division of Wildlife Services. Every potential capture event will be evaluated on a case by case basis at the scene to insure the safety of the animal and the public, considering weather, traffic conditions and the health, size and disposition of the animal. AMF will transport the animals using their existing (roadkill) salvage program vehicles.
Under the terms of the permit, all moose captured and released by AMF will be fitted with radiocollars and ear tags, tested for diseases and parasites, and released at sites at least five miles from a primary road or railroad track. The selected sites will have no more than 30 inches of snow and no open moose hunting season for at least 45 days. Marking the moose is important to track their survival. The terms of the permit require AMF to monitor the post-release movements and survival of the moose (using the radio collars and radio telemetry) and to share this data with ADF&G.
ADF&G staff, APHIS and AMF have worked for the past several months to develop an operational plan for the activity. The permit authorizes AMF to live capture moose along roads within Game Management Unit 14 and transport those moose to release sites in Southcentral Alaska (GMUs 7, 11, 13, 14, 15, or 16) meeting the criteria set by the ADF&G.
Last year AMF received money from the legislature to address moose and human safety issues in Southcentral Alaska, especially moose and vehicle collisions, and AMF is funding this project. AMF first approached ADF&G last September with a proposal to enhance safety of the driving public during winter 2011-12 by relocating selected moose from along busy roadways to remote areas. By reducing the number of moose along roads, AMF hoped to reduce the number of moose-vehicle collisions.
“We have been dealing with this problem for years and we are open to new, creative solutions,” said Dale Rabe, Deputy Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, ADF&G.
While moving moose in winter represents a short term solution that may provide a small reduction in the hazard to public safety, ADF&G advocates longer term solutions such as improved highway lighting, local speed reductions, roadside forage reduction, and underpasses and fencing to deal with known migration routes. ADF&G is dedicated to working with the Department of Transportation to make roads safer while managing for sustained harvest and viewing of moose.
As always, drivers should be alert, and be prepared to follow directions of people directing traffic.