By Joseph Robertia
As summer gives way to fall and the golden leaves begin to flutter down from the trees, male moose grow impressive palmed and pointed antlers which they use to spar with other males in an effort to determine who will lay claim to the cow moose of their particular area. However, the spiked racks of a few bulls on the Kenai Peninsula have recently ensnared them in more than a battle to breed.
“It’s not that unusual for a male moose to get tangled up in things, but we’ve had a few calls this year,” said Jeff Selinger, area wildlife manager with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Soldotna.
The first call came a few weeks ago as motorists and residents in the Kasilof area began seeing a medium-sized bull moose with what appeared to be a plastic swing set wrapped around its antlers.
“It was generating a lot of calls,” Selinger said. “We’re not sure how it got on there, if it was sparring with a swing set or if it just walked through and got snarled up, but we went out and looked for it a few times, and about a week later Larry (Lewis, a wildlife technician with Fish and Game) was able to catch up to it off of Pollard Loop.”
Lewis sedated the animal and was able to remove the swing, the seat of which was dangling like a chandelier under the tangle wrapped around the antler itself. The seat may have been interfering with the bull’s field of vision, which could have caused problems for the animal when looking out for predators or possibly even when crossing the road.
“If it’s not inhibiting their movement, vision, ability to eat or their health, then we’ll typically leave them alone, because whatever’s tangled on there will just drop off when the antlers drop, but this one was affecting its ability to see and the swing was banging off his head,” Selinger said.