See a moose, report a moose; State department asks for public counting help

A wildlife biologist approaches a moose to be sampled during the 2017 ground-based moose survey pilot study. ADFG photo.
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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Following what was previously a successful pilot program, Alaska officials say their best hope of accurately counting moose in Anchorage comes from the help of residents.

Officials with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced Tuesday that they would once again be asking for the public's help in counting urban moose.

This counting method was adopted last year, as the city provided significant challenges to the traditional method of counting moose - aerially.

According to the department, traditional aerial moose counts within the Anchorage Bowl are "impractical due to flight restrictions imposed over the busy metropolitan area."

Sean Farley, a research biologist with DFG, said that the public outreach method provided a boon to the department's overall count.

"The public's help last year made all the difference. We are able to test some critical logistics and determine than an intensive, full-scale effort was feasible in Anchorage," Farley wrote in a statement Tuesday.

The full-scale count is scheduled for Feb. 23 through Feb. 25. During this period, the department is asking people to report moose sightings by phone call (267-2530), text message (782-5051), or online.

Reports are required to have the number of moose observed, the time of the sighting, and the location of the sighting. The department will then go search for the moose, and extract DNA from them via special dart guns.

While the department is asking for the public to report their sightings, they took time in their release to underscore the importance of safety. "Citizens are reminded to avoid approaching moose," the department wrote.

Department survey teams will be out tagging moose with the dart guns and orange vests as they are called in this weekend.

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