Environment Health Lifestyle Local Opinion

20 Degrees + Salted Roads = Moose

Written by Pamela Samash

After 17 yrs of living in Alaska, I ran over my first moose. It was on a Wednesday and I was driving my daughter to the dentist at 8am in the dark. I knew that a lot of moose were out, so I drove slow to avoid hitting one. It didn’t work. That cow thought she could outrun my truck since she can outrun other things, I mean, in her mind, it all made perfect sense. She was leading her teenage daughter to the road like so many others were doing those warm weeks with that yummy sand/salt mixture spread all over the highways, and it killed her. Well, not right away, since I was driving so slow, the impact just sucked her under the truck and spit her out behind me still alive, to suffer and fall down a steep hill, crying for an hour and a half until a trooper came to kill her. (Because evidently the general public is too stupid to decide when an animal is injured beyond recovery) or (we are purposely going to run over moose to destroy our cars so we can kill them) according to the Fish and Game Board. Just a side note: Funny how a board that promotes killing cow moose with calves can never say anything about people and their “intentions” or “intelligence”. Yes, I’m against cow hunts.

Anyway, so I wanted to bring up the salted road thing since apparently no one else is going to. It’s not that they’re not aware, they just could care less or something logical like that.

DOT is actually a pretty amazing group in my opinion. They keep the trucks and cars going, essentially, they keep life going for us out here, at least our way of life. There’s nothing like being able to drive after a big storm because DOT once again, saved the day! I’m being totally serious, they are lifesavers. In order to do this during record warm temperatures, they have a couple of options depending on what equipment they’re using, where it’s at and how much it cost. In December, the ice was no joke on the highways and DOT had to get those roads sanded so we wouldn’t crash into each other and that sand has a mixture of salt in it to keep it from freezing. The machines are specifically designed for this combination and so in full force, to save mankind, for those warm weeks, especially after that last big storm, the roads were generously treated. As a result, 2 things happened: First, we could get to where we wanted to go and second, the moose flooded to the streets. Entire families of moose were attracted to this most delicious spice and boy did they pay the price and so did our insurance companies. Everyone was noticing them everywhere and the last car/moose collision count I heard from Fbx to Nenana was 17 already, in just December.

Sitting there, in the dark, with my banged up truck, waiting for the trooper, was traumatic and horrifying for my daughter and I. God sent a neighbor to hang out with us and my friend swung by and gave me a much needed hug as the cow moose lay in agony which seemed like forever. When it was over I left our truck at the repair shop, and made a few phone calls. I called and talked to DOT and asked them to consider putting out electric signs to warn people when they’ve salted the roads so they can be aware of the risks. I called Fish and Game to alert them about the extra dead moose and to do a good count before handing out hunting licenses in the effected areas, I contacted our local Fish and Game Commitee about submitting a request to end the whole “can’t shoot an injured moose” law, or at least if the trooper is more the 30 minutes out, and I contacted the local media to notify the public which went nowhere, unless I missed it; that is a possibility.

Now when I drive I have to think about things other than that morning or I will not go out during the dark. For days I just saw her in my head, trying to outrun me as I couldn’t stop or swerve on that ice, near that hill. And another day goes by someone on the roadkill list got a full freezer. Meanwhile as I was heading home, my neighbor hit a calf just moments later, right down the road from where my accident occurred.

There is no easy fix to this. DOT has to treat the roads and it’s not their fault temperatures are warm. Moose are programmed to eat salt, it’s not their fault either. We are driving faster and faster in smaller cars. If I would have drove the car that day, I probably wouldn’t have been able to write this article. That only leaves one answer and it’s awareness. If the temps are warm, if the roads are salted, look out for moose and drive accordingly. And remember, never drive faster than your angels can fly.

 

About the author

Pamela Samash

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