Alaska wildlife officials have a message for residents: Please don’t feed the moose.
State Fish and Game officials said Wednesday they’ve seen an uptick in people feeding moose such foods as carrots and apples after a heavy snow season that left many of the animals thin and nutritionally vulnerable.
Reports of both intentional and unintentional feedings have come from Anchorage and the neighboring Matanuska-Susitna Borough to the north. Officials believe many of the feedings are from well-intentioned people.
“People like to think they’re helping out when that’s not the case,” said Tim Peltier, the Fish and Game biologist for the Palmer area of the borough.
Others have reported moose getting into haystacks and horse and rabbit feed.
The animals survive during winter by basically eating twigs, and feeding the nutritionally depleted animal foods they aren’t used to does more harm than good, according to state biologists. What’s more, moose accustomed to edible handouts can become aggressive to the next person they encounter who doesn’t feed them.
Plus, intentionally feeding moose is illegal, and can result in a misdemeanor violation of state game feeding laws. Unintentional feeding based on negligence can result in a $300 ticket from Alaska State Wildlife Troopers, according to trooper spokesman Tim DeSpain.
In Anchorage — home to an estimated 300 moose — multiple people have been feeding a yearling moose that’s been hanging around near a Costco in a busy part of town, according area biologist Dave Battle. The animal also has been investigating trash in the area, he said. Officials know it’s the same moose because it has a gash on one of its hind legs, according to Battle.
The moose almost wandered into the front door of the store Wednesday morning but was scared off by people banging carts together.
The state does not relocate moose, and if that moose begins displaying aggressive behavior toward humans, that could be the end of the animal, Battle said.
“That’s the kind of thing we’re likely to kill a moose over,” he said.
•This is an Associated Press report by Rachel D’Oro.