Alaska Moose Federation takes over Valley road kill recovery - Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman: News

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Alaska Moose Federation takes over Valley road kill recovery

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Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012 9:40 pm | Updated: 5:07 pm, Fri Oct 12, 2012.

MAT-SU - A winter that has much of Southcentral Alaska measuring its seasonal snowfall in feet rather than inches has an organization responding to what it's calling a wildlife emergency.

Alaska Moose Federation has expanded its mission of improving winter habitat accessibility for local moose herds to include responding to collisions between the largest of the deer species and motorists. Deep snows are driving moose to forage for food along roadways and railroad tracks, which have resulted in numerous collisions, said Gary Olson, Alaska Moose Federation executive director.

An average winter sees about 270 moose-vehicle collisions in the Mat-Su Valley, said Tim Peltier, acting area game manager for the Palmer office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. As of Friday afternoon, there have been 315 such accidents, with another 10 to 12 weeks of winter left.

That's why AMF has asked U.S. Sen. Mark Begich's office and Gov. Sean Parnell to declare a moose emergency, Olson said. That request also coincides with the federation taking over moose recovery efforts for Alaska State Troopers. Since Jan. 1, AMF has been responding to moose-vehicle accidents in the Anchorage area, and Friday saw that response expand to include the Valley.

Troopers have a list of charities that receive road-kill moose, Olson said. Until now, it's been the responsibility of those charities to respond and remove moose from accident scenes. In many cases, that has meant long waits for law enforcement personnel and dangerous situations for charity volunteers who often had to butcher the animals on the side of busy roads.

"It used to be people would come out and butcher a moose right there because they couldn't transport a whole moose," Olson said. "Now, it's out of there in 15, 20 minutes. It's better for the officers, better for the citizens, because you don't have people exposed out there on the side of the road."

Since starting retrieval in the Anchorage area Jan. 1, AMF has cut the average response time and removal of moose by an average of about 2.5 hours per incident, Olson said. Volunteers use a specially equipped truck with a winch to remove the moose whole, which is then delivered to the designated charity.

Olson recounts one incident along the Seward Highway where volunteers were ill-equipped to deal with a dead moose.

"They had grandmothers who'd never butchered a moose before and were out there for nine hours," he said. "They brought a drawer of kitchen knives and learned to butcher a moose right there in the fast lane of the new Seward Highway."

In less than a month, the difference in response has been remarkable, said Lt. Dave Parker of the Anchorage Police Department.

"It works wonderfully. They're Johnny on the spot," he said. "It cuts down the response time and the amount of time our officers have to spend worrying about traffic. The state is behind it and DOT is all in favor of it. They've expanded to also include relocation of baby moose when the momma gets hit. In those situations, the baby moose usually becomes the next one (to get hit)."

The recovery program is made possible through a $700,000 appropriation from the state Legislature spread out over a number of years, Olson said. But this winter's extreme moose kill numbers are eating through that funding, he said. The average truck costs about $10,000 to $15,000, and requires another $7,000 to modify for recovery. And there are five AMF trucks able to respond 24/7 in the Valley.

"We're being forced to acquire more trucks, and need a (larger) maintenance program and fuel (budget)," he said. "The whole heart of this program is the volunteers. When you see a moose out there and you see law enforcement waiting forever, there are so many reasons we need this program."

Another benefit for AMF to respond is the organization can also collect information from accident scenes to use for future mitigation planning, Olson said, adding it didn't take long for Valley volunteers to be put to work. Only hours after going live, the first call came in at about 7 a.m., Friday.

Justin Anderson, an employee at Sportsman's Warehouse in Wasilla, picked up that moose in the Palmer area.

"I just like to help give back to our community and help some people get some moose in their freezer," Anderson said. "Also, it helps the troopers get back out on the road helping our people more."

That's one reason why Sportsman's Warehouse employees have agreed to man two of the AMF trucks, said volunteer Josh Anderson. He responded to the second Valley call at about 7:30 a.m., Saturday. That call came after an extra-early false alarm.

"I got a call at about 3 a.m. to retrieve a moose that had been hit by a motorist," he said. "Then they called back and said that the moose had stood up and revived itself."

As winter moves on, Olson said he expects Valley volunteers to be busy. In fact, there are so many moose being hit, the state Department of Transportation has stopped trying to update its signs tallying moose-vehicle accidents.

"From what the numbers are telling me, we can expect to get at least one to three a day with all this deep snow out here in the Valley," Olson said. "(DOT) can't keep up putting numbers on their signs. If you look at those signs on the side of the road, they're blank."

Contact Greg Johnson at greg.johnson@frontiersman.com or 352-2269.

WANT TO VOLUNTEER?

To learn more about volunteering with Alaska Moose Federation, visit the group's website at growmoremoose.org.

 

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Welcome to the discussion.

7 comments:

  • Daniel K posted at 12:38 pm on Mon, May 7, 2012.

    Daniel K Posts: 1

    It is against the law, ABSOLUTELY, against the law to pass something like the road kill program over to one charity. A charity,that has been purposefully misleading in their platforms of Liability, Time taken by officers, (who I might add are already being paid tax dollars to do the same. I might add that is using taxdollars to do it. We were doing it safer, faster, and for free. It is beyond reason itself, for the Alaskan government to be so blatant in their disregard for one of the most basic of Alaskan's freedoms, which is a complete bypass of the constitutional mandate of public opinion and popular vote. This was not done. And so now we are having our tax dollars stolen from us twice, to take care of a problem that didn't exist to begin with. If the state wants to make a wise decision concerning the road kill and amount of animals hit. I would suggest this route. Since most of the road kills are caused by speeding, or otherwise occupied drivers who are not paying the best attention to the road, perhaps, it might be wiser to insert a driver's education class into the schools instead. Because as long as people are not taking the precautions that they should, they will hit moose, or other animals, regardless of the absolute perjury that the AMF is spreading. You don't read in the papers the government agencies saying that AMF is saving time or money. They know better. NOTHING

     
  • horse n around posted at 9:00 pm on Wed, Feb 1, 2012.

    horse n around Posts: 42

    Wow, this is definately a switch from what we had to deal with for the past few years. We had to be reputable charities (501 c 3) proving the meat would go to helping many underprivileged families and that we were capable of picking one up at any hour of the day.

    What happened to this program? No wonder there was a problem witht he way it was being handled. Willfish4food just said, if you want a moose go sign up for one. That defeats the intented purpose of the charity program. 317 choice families would end up with the meat reguardless of income from 317 dead moose? While those in need still starved? Something is pretty fishy here.

     
  • bluecollar posted at 9:55 pm on Tue, Jan 31, 2012.

    bluecollar Posts: 248

    We had the same moose fatality problem during the winter of 1989. The most effective ADFG crisis management plan was packing down trails with an assorted team of private and military tracked vehicles to and around moose browsing areas. This promoted moose activity (feeding) off the highway and prevented accidents.

    Where is the preparation of winter habitat that Mr. Olson, year after year, claims he is spending (donated) AMF money on. No "real" information on growmoremoose.org. When was the last time ADFG and ADOF proactively implemented wildlife enhancement, timber cutting or prescribed burning to generate new growth to feed moose away from the roads. Back to crisis management, picking up dead moose instead of managing habitat, only compounded by the number of single calves caused by the "antlerless" moose hunting season. Calves that are doomed because F&G in their infinite wisdom allow mother cows to be shot.

    There are a lot of great people out there volunteering for this project (along with the generous public funding) but what happened to the long range plan? And do we really need to fund moose recoveries? Seems to me the State Troopers could qualify any charity by specifying recovery vehicles and procedures. Is this going to be another permanent State funded program?


     
  • willphish4food posted at 9:41 pm on Tue, Jan 31, 2012.

    willphish4food Posts: 10

    We are on the road kill list. Today I received a call from the troopers to receive a road kill moose. This was no different from past calls. What was different, is that when I asked where it was, they told me that AMF was picking it up, and they would give me a call for directions to where to meet or drop it off. They brought it to my house and dropped it off. My place on the road kill list was not bumped; the only thing that changed was that I didn't have to go and remove the moose from the road. I think this is a terrific program, and very cheap to the state, considering the amount of trooper time that it is saving. So the state is not taking away the road kill list. Troopers still use that to distribute the moose; they are coordinating with the AMF to do so. If you are interested in receiving road killed moose, then go to your nearest trooper office to sign up.

     
  • griz posted at 11:18 pm on Mon, Jan 30, 2012.

    griz Posts: 10

    I see both pros & cons with this new service.
    Pros,
    Quicker response time (maybe)
    Saving the state $, in Trooper overtime.

    Cons.
    I see more government intrusion & favoritism.
    The article really doesn't say, WHO will get the salvages meat.
    Or what method, they will use for a road kill list.

    Is this program gonna expand all over the state?

    They better get that truck pictured, up to DOT standards!

     
  • areyoukiddingme posted at 4:01 pm on Sun, Jan 29, 2012.

    areyoukiddingme Posts: 1

    [thumbdown] Why would the State take away our road kill. I am in my sixties and I need it.

     
  • horse n around posted at 10:10 am on Sun, Jan 29, 2012.

    horse n around Posts: 42

    I was wondering why our charity dosen't get calls this year anymore. Our church invested all our private money into a tilt bed which could wench a moose up off the side of the road and get it out of there quickly in below freezing weather. Ours is no cost to the people of the state for purchase or repair (thanks for the new bill Parnell), and now the moose go to favorites on the list I guess. Looks like big government got involved and the real charities suffer.

    True charities should be packaging and dividing that meat up between many hungry families and not going to one family with a grandma out there in the cold with kitchen knives.The internal parts should go to trappers, hoofs should go to the carvers and so on.

     

United Way 'Day of Caring'

A group of Matanuska Electric Association volunteers pose after cleaning and rearranging the pavilion at the Alaska Veterans and Pioneer Home Monday afternoon. The group volunteered as part of United Way’s Day of Caring, a week-long effort to connect community groups with volunteers. For a full list of projects, visit unitedwaymatsu.org.

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