« New Pictures Posted | Main | Leviticus, anyone? »

Road Kill List

More moose are hit by drivers on Alaska’s roads in the wintertime than are hit in the summertime. There are a number of reasons for this.

In warmer weather, moose range all over the country, even into suprisingly high alpine areas. I was surprised to see moose droppings on several of the high domes while hiking the Pinnel Trail a few summers ago. In the winter, the moose move down into the sheltered valleys, which is also where the towns are.

Also, moose tend to congregate closer into towns because there are fewer predators (wolves) closer to the towns. There is also less snow to deal with in town. This is attractive to moose since deep snow slows them down when evading wolves. And of course the dark of winter prevents drivers from seeing moose in the roadway.

About 150 moose are killed in and around Fairbanks every winter. When it happens, the state troopers consult a list of local charities who have signed up on the road kill list. They call the next name on the list, and someone from that charity has to come and deal with the moose right away. This could be three o’clock in the morning when it’s forty below zero out.  

Lately, the troopers have been having a harder and harder time getting people to come out and pick up these moose. As this Fairbanks News Miner story tells, sometimes people sign up to be called, but then when the phone rings in the middle of the night, and they are asked to leave their warm bed to venture out into the cold and dark to do some serious work on the side of the highway, many people take a pass.

And so the troopers have recently opened up the list to include interested individuals rather than just charity organizations. I perked up when I heard that. Since we’ve already eaten more than half of the moose I shot in September (What are we gonna do when these boys are teenagers? It’s already a little terrifying!), we could use some more moose meat.

My hesitation was that harvesting this beast that is quickly freezing to the highway surface may be too big a job for me to tackle alone, in the middle of the night, in the cold and dark. I was recently talking with a buddy of mine who was already on the roadkill list for his church. I shared my interest and my reluctance. He told me that he had recently had this same conversation with another guy who is a mutal friend of ours. It was an obvious solution.

I talked to our mutual friend the following week. I told him I was interested in being on the road kill list, and that I had heard he was too. So we agreed to partner up. He went to the trooper station the following day and put his name down. So from this point on, he could get a call just about any time. And he would call me. And I would have to go meet him.

And so now as I sit here a eleven o’clock at night, I’m asking myself if I should get something together in the event that call comes tonight. What kinds of things would I need? I’ve been on a moose harvest party twice now, so I have a rough idea: a couple good knives and a sharpener, gut hook, bone saw, a lantern with extra fuel, headlamp with extra batteries, latex gloves, game bags, a tarp or two, some paracord, snacks and water for me, maybe a thermos of coffee, and then of course all of my cold weather gear. I’ll be like a fireman with my boots and bib overalls at the foot of my bed.

Is it the adventure, the experience, or the need to feed these kids? All of the above, no doubt.

In other news, there was a sun storm recently that is supposed to be raining down mega solar energy our humble planet. The aurora is supposed to be rockin’ tonight. And of course it’s cloudy and snowing hard. And that’s why the aurora is so special: even when you live here it’s a rare sight to see. Stephanie and I were tempted to drive north on the haul road until we found some clear sky. I’m still tempted. And I suppose this is a sign of getting older, but I’m just too tired. The aurora will have to swing, sway, and shine silently without us, while we drowse in a warm bed. 

Posted on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at 11:12PM by Registered CommenterBrian Rozell | Comments1 Comment

Reader Comments (1)

Another idea: what about some propane or gas based heater that you can use in-situ so that you can get some warmth blowing at you while you are dissecting the beast? If it took you many hours in the summer, imagine doing all that in the -40 degree weather.
February 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDad

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.