ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Snow is a common sight in Anchorage this time of year, but a less common sight that has become more so in recent weeks is moose meandering the streets of the city.
These largest members of the deer family have expended a lot of energy traipsing through thick snow during the winter. With vegetation becoming scarce in their natural habitat, they venture down the freshly plowed streets of Anchorage to graze on decorative shrubs and grasses in parks.
Climatologist and self-proclaimed "mooseologist" Brian Brettschneider said most people in Anchorage don’t have a problem with their new neighbors – at least during this time of the year.
"You don’t run into people who say, ‘Ugh! There’s moose again. I wish they would go away,"’ Brettschneider said. "Now when it comes to gardening season, and they’ll get into people’s gardens."
Brettschneider said he and his wife spent three days one year repairing their garden after some moose jumped a fence for a buffet.
For the past few years, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game has conducted an urban-moose survey. It is estimated that about 350 moose live around Anchorage.
Brettschneider said that for most people who live there, it’s just a reminder of why Anchorage is so special.
"I think for people who live here in Alaska, and for people who live here in Anchorage, it really represents wildness, and it represents a connection to open spaces and to nature which is one of the reasons why people live here," Brettschneider said. "We live here not so much for the urban amenities, but we live here for the aesthetics and all the things that you can do in wide-open spaces. And the moose are part of that experience."
Moose are usually docile, but it’s always best to keep a safe distance. During mating season in the fall, males can get rather combative and like to lock antlers with other males.