September 30, 2018
10 Times Moose Found Themselves in Traffic! Hazards of Alaskan Motorists
Moose and traffic go hand-in-hand in Alaska. With so many moose in or near urban areas, there's plenty of opportunity for the largest member of the deer family to interact with Alaskans while we are driving. Clearly this often results in a very hazardous situation for Alaskans behind the wheel, as being involved in a moose versus car collision can often result in a much different outcome than someone driving a Ford Taurus in rural Indiana striking a 125 pound whitetail deer. This would be more like someone in rural Indiana colliding with a wayward Holstein...its just that our wayward cattle come in the from of moose, and often big bull moose sporting massive antlers as well! In this video captured by John Walsh, you see a very large Alaskan bull moose walking down the middle of a two-lane road in the heart of Alaska's largest city, Anchorage. Being this close to these huge animals gives you a great appreciation for their sheer size!
Within the cities of Alaska, sometimes the drivers encounter moose at relatively slow speeds which poses less of a danger to motorists than it does to pedestrians. This clearly isn't the case on the Glenn Highway, which connects Anchorage to the Matanuska-Susitna valley where residents of Eagle River, Palmer, Wasilla, and other communities commute to Anchorage for work on a daily basis.
You can see that this cow moose, although very large in size, can move very quickly onto the roadway. You can also see that moose hooves are not adapted to getting traction on asphalt and paved surfaces and once the moose enters the roadway, it immediately falls down and has to scramble to get back up, jump the guardrail and move to safety!
The next generation of moose aren't immune from finding themselves in the headlights either. Moose calves can get separated from their mothers in the confusion of heavy traffic. Keith Burgess spotted a calf in traffic and reports that a 'Baby moose got into traffic and was almost hit by a couple cars. I then carried it to safety.'
These two videos show very small moose calves finding themselves on roadways, discovering people, cars, and other things likely for the first few times of their lives!
Another large bull moose decided to take a stroll next to the vehicle of Anchorage resident Mark Adams one fall evening. It is important to reiterate that moose, even in urban environments, can be very dangerous to be around. Always keep your distance if you are on foot and if you are in a vehicle, do not harass the animals but allow them to move along without alarming them or angering them. You can see that the bull moose in this video is relaxed and not upset by the presence of the vehicle.
While its important to keep your distance from these huge ungulates, sometimes the animals need some 'guidance' to help get themselves and others out of harms way. In this case, the APD had to assist these two from downtown with the help of their squad cars!
Wintertime can be an especially dangerous time for drivers to be cautious about moose on the roads and highways. Slick conditions, and often driving in the many hours of winter darkness means that drivers have to keep their eyes peeled for these large hazards that can run, slip, and jump in front of moving vehicles. Couple these hazards with the draw of moose to sometimes prefer plowed surfaces over trudging through deep snow conditions and you can see how many moose are struck and killed on Alaskan roadways.
Cyclists and pedestrians often think of other motorists as being their largest concern when it comes to safety while walking and riding bicycles in Alaska, which is likely true. However, encountering moose, and cow moose with calves is not something that is out of the question, and it poses a significant safety hazard to those enjoying Alaska, commuting to work, or exercising on foot or two wheels. Jake Hupp captured a very agitated cow moose which did not appear to be very happy about the presence of a cyclist near the Glenn Highway. Luckily and SUV was doing a great job at giving the cyclist a bit of a safety barrier!
And lastly, it sometimes looks like moose know they own the roadways and prefer to take a nice leisurely stroll down the very center of the road making everyone stop and watch.