A moose — uncommon in the Juneau area — was spotted swimming off Lena Point Friday morning, delighting area residents who quickly posted photos to social media.
Jo Ann Forst told the Empire in a phone interview her husband spotted the animal in the water sometime between 7:30-8 a.m.
“I thought he was joking,” Forst said. “We were watching it through the binoculars.”
Forst said the moose swam back and forth in front of their home before heading in the direction of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building at Lena Point.
“It was just kind of strolling down the beach,” Forst said.
Moose, common in many parts of Alaska, are present in Southeast Alaska but they aren’t often seen near residences in Juneau. Moose have been spotted at Point Bridget State Park and Mendenhall Lake, according to wildlife biologist Mary F. Willson.
Juneau area biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game Roy Churchwell said moose are occasionally spotted in Juneau but a population has never established itself.
“Juneau doesn’t really have that riparian, willow habitat moose like,” Churchwell told the Empire.
Moose eat willow stems for most of the winter, Churchwell said, and the Juneau area doesn’t have many of those. Some moose were introduced to Berners Bay, he said, but the majority of the moose population in Southeast Alaska emigrated from Canada and there weren’t any low river valleys allowing them to reach the area.
“It’s not unheard of, they probably come down from Berners. Every few years one is spotted but they never really stayed,” Churchwell said. “Who knows, maybe someday some moose will come down and prove me wrong.”