FAIRBANKS — Arleen Darling is used to seeing moose near her home north of Fairbanks, but got a surprise when a young bull lying on her lawn lifted its head.
An arrow was sticking out of its face.
“I just about lost it,” she said.
The arrow, with chartreuse fletching, was embedded below the eyes and above the nose. Darling, 78, called it horrific and got a second shock when she called the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“Their first reaction was, ‘We’ll probably just dispatch it,’” Darling told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner .
Darling and other neighbors wanted a different solution. Karen Sundborg named the young bull “Bullseye” for the position of the arrow, which didn’t seem to harm the animal. Its appetite was unaffected but the protrusion was an annoyance.
“Sometimes, the arrow would hit a branch when he was feeding, and he’d shake his head,” she said. “You could tell he was getting agitated with it.”
The hunter who shot the moose in late September had called to report the injured animal, assistant area biologist Tony Hollis said. The hunter said he had a clean shot at the animal’s heart but it moved its head at the last second.
Hollis finally spotted the moose Oct. 14.
“Normally, our protocol with wounded moose is if it can live, we’ll let it go, and if it’s wounded bad enough so it’s not going to live, we’ll dispatch it,” Hollis said. “The initial reports of a moose with an arrow in its head led you to believe you’re going to shoot this moose.”
Hollis watched the moose for an hour and deemed it healthy. He decided to see if the arrow could be removed.
Four days later, Hollis came back with a technician and a visiting veterinarian from Sweden, Marianne Lian, and they tranquilized the moose with a dart.
“He ran down the street and went down in someone’s driveway,” Hollis said.
The arrow was embedded 4 to 5 inches in the bridge of the moose’s nose, Hollis said.
“It went through one layer of bone and was just sitting in cartilage in the nasal cavity,” Hollis said. They could not remove the broadhead tip so Lian simply unscrewed the shaft and left the broadhead.
“We cleaned the wound out good, put some wound powder on it, gave it a big shot of antibiotics and hoped for the best,” Hollis said.
The operation was a special case and the agency is “not really in the business of fixing animals,” Hollis said.
Neighbors were pleased.
“There were a lot of people rooting for me,” Hollis said. “People were real nice.”