Lead them to provender or leave them nature?
Save the moose? Alaskans can't even agree on that.
We've been here before. Another rough winter of deep snow has made moose hungry and desperate for easier trails -- and desperation takes them smack into the path of cars, trucks, trains and kids on the way to school.
Not to mention hospital entryways.
Now the Alaska Moose Federation, a nonprofit group that wants more moose both in the field and in their freezers, has money and permission from the state to set up feeding stations, diversionary trails away from roads and railroad tracks, and authority to drug and move moose at least five miles from any road.
For the relocation, we've got an unusual situation of state money going to a private nonprofit so it can pay a federal agency to do the work.
This does seem convoluted. Why not the Department of Fish and Game?
Well, Fish and Game says the moose federation has the Legislature's ear. And there's debate within the ranks as to whether feeding moose to tide them over a hard winter is a good idea. Some don't want to send the message that it's ever good to feed wild animals, and some argue that nature's way may be cold and hard to our eyes but that we shouldn't interfere.
Often it's wise to let nature take its course, but on the other hand nature's course doesn't include locomotives and SUV's. We're part of the ecosystem. Whether it's the moose federation or Fish and Game or the feds, if we can spare a few moose -- and drivers and their families -- from dangerous collisions, that's all to the good. And if we can take the edge off a brutal winter, then that's all right too. Some of these moose may simply be saved for the hunt. Good. Better shot and field dressed than slaughtered on the highway.
You can argue about cost effectiveness or what outfit should be doing the work or whether we should do it at all. But this operation won't upset the balance of nature.
It could be a bridge to spring for a few more moose, and a few more calves.
BOTTOM LINE: Moose mercy mission sparks debate, but it won't tip the balance of nature.