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City mulls fence regs to protect moose

Five moose were gored to death in Anchorage

Posted: July 21, 2014 - 11:06pm

ANCHORAGE — After five moose were gored to death trying to jump over some decorative fences, officials in Alaska’s largest city are considering regulations to make the gothic-style fences safer.

The Anchorage Assembly on Aug. 5 will hold a public hearing on proposed regulations for metal palisade fences that have spiked, pointed tips.

The fences stand between 4- and 6-feet tall and usually encircle private residences for both security and aesthetic reasons, the Alaska Dispatch News reported. But state wildlife biologists say moose get caught up, or gored by the tips when they try to jump over them.

The proposal from Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnston would outlaw such fences shorter than 9 feet unless the tips are removed or the spikes capped. She said constituents asked her to draft the proposal after seeing news accounts of the moose deaths.

Of the thousands of miles of fences in Anchorage, there are few of the metal palisade style. However, that number is on the rise, according to an April resolution passed by the Watershed and Natural Resources Advisory Commission, which supports the measure.

Likely the most prominent use of the palisade fence is at the historic Atwood mansion in Anchorage, where a number of moose impalements has prompted criticism.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Biologist Jessy Coltrane shot down two moose calves impaled on the mansion fence on the same day about five years ago.

“It’s pretty gruesome and horrible for all parties involved,” said Coltrane, who referred to them as “impalement fences.”

The moose are either gutted by the fences when attempting to jump over them, or the animal’s skinny ankles get caught in the fence and they hang upside down until they die.

The Atwood Foundation has placed a flat bar across the top of the fence to cover the spikes at the mansion. Officials at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson also moose-proofed a fence at the base.

But Coltrane said even though homeowners and business owners are typically horrified and remorseful when the moose are caught by private fences, she has seen little action to repair or improve them.

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