Eagle River Valley residents urge caution

Four moose hit in one day along narrow corridor


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A hand-made sign urges motorists to slow down on Eagle River Road. Residents of the Eagle River Valley say moose are hanging out near the road frequently because of heavy snow in the woods.

STAR PHOTO BY MATT TUNSETH

Just how many moose are finding their way onto car bumpers in the Eagle River Valley?

“There were four killed in one day up here,” said Candis Stanley, who lives near the end of Eagle River Road.

Stanley said the Feb. 1-2 storm that brought several more inches of snow to the area sent more moose down near the roadway.

“Moose are everywhere right now,” she said.

According to Anchorage Police spokesman Lt. Dave Parker, the animals are using roads and paths adjacent to roads because snow in the woods is so heavy.

“When the snow gets deep, the moose walk in the roads. When the moose walk in the roads, they get hit by cars,” Parker said.

The Alaska Moose Federation launched a program this winter to handle the disposal of dead moose on the roads. Federation president Gary Olson said the group is dispatched by law enforcement when a moose is hit. AMF members arrive on scene shortly afterward and haul the carcass to a safe place to be butchered for charity, Olson said. This saves police the hassle of having to guard the area alongside the road and helps charities by keeping them out of harm’s way, Olson said.

“Instead of you going out to the road surface, the moose is brought to you or to a safe location to butcher the moose,” he said.

Olson’s crews were dispatched to handle a dead moose on Eagle River Road last week during the storm and instead left with two, he said.

“It looked like the bull got hit first, and then a cow went out to check on the bull and she got hit, too,” Olson said.

Olson said this year’s heavy snowfall has had his crews working nearly nonstop.

“This is easily twice as many,” as a normal year, he said.

Residents who live up Eagle River Road have been urging anyone who will listen to slow down on the thoroughfare, a narrow, two-lane road that has a posted speed limit of 55 mph along most of its roughly 10-mile run up the valley between Walmart and the Eagle River Nature Center.

Stanley said folks have even gone so far as to paint their own warning signs alongside the road at points where moose are known to congregate.

“It’s a real concern,” she said.

Stanley said motorists need to slow way down along the road during the winter months.

“We just have so much snow that the roads are narrow and there’s no place for the moose to go,” she said.

Olson said other ways to avoid collisions include making sure headlights are clean and windshield wipers are in good working order. And, of course, being wary of the animals’ presence.

“You’ve just gotta have an increased awareness,” he said.

Stanley said she hopes people take her advice and slow down along the road. She doesn’t want to see more moose hauled off the road on the back of Olson’s flatbed trucks.

“It kind of breaks your heart to see it happening,” she said.

 

Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or matt.tunseth@alaskastar.com

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