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Wildlife

Moose shot to death after it charged a ski lift line at Alyeska Resort

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: March 15
  • Published March 14

A cow moose was shot to death at Alyeska Resort on Sunday, the day after it was caught on video charging skiers and snowboarders as they stood in line for an upper-mountain lift at the Girdwood ski area.

The attack occurred at the Glacier Bowl Express chair lift. About two minutes into the five-minute video, the young moose is seen rushing at a group of people, who yell and scramble out of the way.

Nobody was reported injured in the attack.

Alyeska spokesman Ben Napolitano said the moose charged the lift line at about sunset Saturday. The incident was the first he's seen of moose charging people at the resort during his six years with Alyeska.

Details on how Alyeska staff tracked the moose weren't immediately available Tuesday, but Napolitano said the moose was killed early Sunday morning on the Lower Vonn's Trail at midmountain. The location was about 500 vertical feet below where Saturday's video was recorded.

Alyeska staff reported the attack to the Alaska Wildlife Troopers. AWT spokesman Tim DeSpain said Tuesday that troopers discussed with Alyeska staff the procedures for killing the moose in defense of life or property, justified under state law. Doing so involves detailing the threat involved, confirming that the moose killed is the same one that posed the threat and submitting a report.

"In defense of life or property, it's legal to kill a wild animal that's endangering people," DeSpain said. "Ultimately, it was a safety concern for their staff and the people there."

Moose are a regular sight on the mountain, Napolitano said, although they're typically at lower altitudes.

"Sometimes you see 'em right up the tram on North Face, but not usually that high," Napolitano said.

Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, said the department has received several recent reports of moose attacks in Southcentral Alaska, from Palmer to Homer, as they encounter people at a difficult point of the season.

"Moose at this time of year tend to get a little grumpy," Marsh said. "They're nutritionally stressed, they've been moving through deep snow."

In most cases, Marsh said, people have been able to escape the attacks unhurt. Some of the charges have occurred after reported attempts to feed moose, which he urged people not to do.

"It's illegal — it's not good for the moose, it's bad at them nutritionally and it's really bad for their behavior," Marsh said. "The next person might not know they've been fed, and might not have any food for them and that might make them aggressive."

Although the killing of the moose at Alyeska would likely be deemed in defense of life or property, Marsh said, that justification typically applies only to active attacks by moose against people. In most residential cases, people should contact Fish and Game or troopers before killing a moose.

"If there's a moose standing in your yard and you think it may have been aggressive two days ago, you don't just go out and shoot it," Marsh said.

Jason Herreman, an assistant Kenai Peninsula area biologist with Fish and Game, said a woman on East End Road in Homer was attacked Sunday by a calf moose. The woman was raising chickens and had just stepped outdoors to feed them.

"The moose met her and stuck its head in the feed bucket she was holding on to," Herreman said. "It realized she was still holding on to it, so it reared back and kicked her in the head."

She suffered a concussion, Herreman said.

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