On Friday morning, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game killed an aggressive moose reported to have attacked and injured four people in an Eagle River neighborhood over several weeks, the agency said.
Fish and Game decided to kill the moose after the fourth attack Thursday night. It marked the first cow moose with calves killed for aggressive behavior in the Anchorage area in six years.
Biologists and an Alaska Wildlife Trooper responded to the Eaglewood subdivision in Eagle River Thursday night and were directed to a narrow, fenced, forest-lined trail cutting through the neighborhood, Fish and Game said in a statement. They found a cow moose bedded with twin calves, the statement says.
"Biologists watched the cow from a distance of 35 yards for signs of aggression. Within minutes, the animal stood, approached, then abruptly lowered its head and charged, forcing them to run," Fish and Game said.
The moose reportedly continued to act aggressively from even greater distances over the next half hour.
The responders pulled out of the area for the night without taking action against the moose, but blocked the trail with ribbon and put up warning signs.
Returning to the neighborhood the next morning, Fish and Game staff located the moose in about the same area, and it quickly started showing aggression again.
"Determined by the department to pose a significant public safety threat, the cow was humanely killed," Fish and Game said.
"Assessments made by staff indicated it was likely the animal would continue to attack humans passing through the area, without provocation. Further incidents could have resulted in additional human injury or death," the agency said.
The calves were captured and handed over to a wildlife care facility; the cow was salvaged by a charity.
Officials say the cow seriously injured a woman in Eaglewood on May 22, sending her to the hospital.
Biologist Dave Battle said he spoke with residents and learned that another attack had happened days earlier, and a subsequent attack happened days later. Those two additional attacks resulted in less serious injuries, Battle said.
"Incidents of a particular cow moose repeatedly attacking people over a period of weeks are highly unusual," Fish and Game said.
The fourth attack from the moose in Eaglewood brings the total number of moose encounters with injuries in the Anchorage area over less than a month to nine. More encounters may have occurred, as many go unreported, officials said.
Fish and Game noted that none of the Eaglewood attacks were reported to the department when they happened.
People who encounter aggressive moose are asked to contact the nearest Fish and Game office during regular business hours, or use its new "Report a Wildlife Encounter" button on the home page of its website to make an immediate report online.
Moose calving season is expected to last another week or longer but mother moose will continue to fiercely protect their offspring through the summer.
"If a moose calf is encountered without its mother immediately in view, be alert because you may have walked between them," warned Fish and Game. "The best course of action is usually to back away and leave from the direction you came. Also, do not assume young animals found alone are orphaned. Mother moose frequently walk out of sight, cache their young, or become separated from them by fences or roads."