A 6-year-old boy suffered a head injury after being charged by a moose as he got off the school bus on the Anchorage Hillside on Monday afternoon, Anchorage police said.
The kindergartner was taken to Providence Alaska Medical Center, where he was still hospitalized a day later. The family did not want to release information Tuesday about his condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.
Anita Shell, spokeswoman for the Anchorage Police Department, said Tuesday that she could not release the name of the injured child because he is considered a juvenile victim but said his mother is Elizabeth Barnes.
The incident happened around 3:50 p.m. on Foster Road, near DeArmoun Road.
"The mother was watching him walk down the road because there was a moose in the area," Shell said. Barnes had her eyes on a moose on the north end of Foster. Then, Shell said, "a second moose came out of the woods to the east, striking her 6-year-old son." Barnes called 911.
Shell said police didn't try to track down the moose, which may have been gone by the time they got there.
A neighbor, Thais Holladay, said her 8-year-old daughter also rode the bus home from Bear Valley Elementary School. Her daughter told her right away a moose was outside. A moment later, another girl rang the doorbell and reported that the boy had been "kicked in the head," Holladay said.
She grabbed her phone, called police, and ran to help. His mother was already there. The mother always waits at the bus stop, either with a younger child in a stroller or in her vehicle, Holladay said. This time, she came in her vehicle and he walked along. Their home was just a few houses away, the neighbor said.
A big, barking loose dog in the neighborhood apparently agitated the moose, Holladay said.
"This time of year, I think they are half-starved and half-crazed," she said.
Police don't keep statistics on how often people in Anchorage are injured by moose, Shell said. But just last week, a moose kicked a woman in Town Square after she got too close and tried to pet it. She wasn't badly injured.
Bear Valley principal Michelle Prince and teachers at the school were reminding children Tuesday about how to be safe around wildlife, said Heidi Embley, Anchorage School District spokeswoman. Don't pet wild animals. Don't feed them. Don't agitate them by yelling. Stay at least 50 feet away from moose. Teachers and staff were speaking with children who saw the incident to calm fears and assure them he is being cared for, Embley said.
By all accounts, the child was just trying to walk home.
"This was unprovoked and he had no chance to react," Embley said.
School bus drivers are supposed to keep children on the bus if they spot moose or other potentially dangerous animals. They can wait a few minutes to see if the animal ambles off, or make other stops and circle back. They can deliver children to their homes, if the bus can maneuver it. If not, drivers can radio for a smaller vehicle to take the children home, Embley said.
The Bear Valley bus driver didn't see a moose and was gone by the time the child was injured, she said.
The neighbors are waiting for word about how he is doing, Holladay said.
"We're all really worried and concerned," she said.
Reach Lisa Demer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4390.