The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman reports on the experience of a Big Lake family that learned first-hand about a catch-22 regarding property owners' responsibility for wildlife carcasses. And with this winter as hard as it has been on area moose, the problem may be more common than usual this spring.
A clearly starving young moose started hanging around Lucille Magee's yard in February. About a month later, her granddaughter discovered the moose's carcass about 20 feet from the house.
When the young moose showed up, along with a struggling adult cow, Magee says she called Alaska State Troopers. A trooper investigated, advised her not to feed or interfere with the moose, and said he'd contact Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Magee says she never heard back.
The cow disappeared, and when the young one finally died, she was upset to learn the carcass was her problem, not the state's.
"Legally, I couldn't touch it when it was alive," she said. "I had to watch it starve. You don't even do that to homeless people. Animals shouldn't have to suffer. … Then I was told 'once it dies, it's yours.' Well, I couldn't feed it, and legally I couldn't shoot it."
Magee's grandson called the Big Lake solid waste transfer station to see about disposing of the remains, but he was told that it would be very expensive and that he would likely be investigated by troopers. None of which is correct, said Cathy Mayer, the borough's solid waste manager.
Mayer said the confusion likely came because he called a transfer station. While animals can be taken to transfer stations, she recommends people bring them to the central landfill.
"Generally, you just bring it in and get weighed," she said. "With a larger carcass like that, it needs to go into the solid waste disposal unit. It gets buried right away when it comes in so it's not sitting around getting scavenged on."
The disposal fee in the borough is currently $60 per ton, Mayer said.
It's also acceptable for landowners to drag a carcass into a remote wooded area, said Alaska Wildlife Troopers Sgt. Doug Massie.
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For Anchorage-area residents, the municipality's Solid Waste Services says that only the Anchorage Regional Landfill accepts large carcasses. It takes them on a case-by-case basis and asks that people call (907) 343-6262 for more information. The fee is listed at time plus $56.50 per ton, with time charged in half-hour increments at $140 per hour.