N. Pole man shoots threatening moose

Posted: Friday, June 01, 2007

FAIRBANKS - A North Pole musher shot a moose as it threatened to charge him. Alaska State Troopers said he would not be cited.

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The cow was defending a calf from a sled dog that had broken loose before it turned on the man.

Wildlife Trooper Dennis Roe said Jonah Lilley shot the moose in the head with a .22-caliber rifle from about 20 feet away.

"He shot a couple times in the air trying to scare the moose off and she turned toward him, put her ears back and started coming toward him," Roe said.

The incident occurred Monday at Lilley's home on the Old Richardson Highway.

According to Roe, the cow and the calf, which was probably less than a week old, walked into Lilley's dog lot and "riled the dogs up."

"Evidently, one of the bigger huskies pulled its anchor out and ran over to the moose," Roe said. "The cow took him on trying to stop him."

Lilley retrieved a .22 from his home and fired it into the air to scare the moose. The cow turned toward the man, and when she moved toward him, Lilley shot it, Roe said.

"She ran off a little bit and ended up going down," the trooper said.

The loose husky went after the calf and grabbed it by its hind end, Roe said. The musher shooed the dog off the calf but not before it was seriously injured. When Roe arrived, the calf was alive but could not stand up, so he shot it.

The shooting appeared to be justified, Roe said.

"It definitely wasn't intentional," Roe said.

The cow moose was salvaged by a charity. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game took the calf carcass for research.

Cow moose aggressively protect their young, wildlife officials said.

"Cows are pretty possessive of those little guys," Roe said.

One steadfast rule is never to get between a cow and a calf, said state wildlife biologist Don Young.

"Some of these cows can be incredibly protective," Young said.

Newborn moose should not be touched or even approached, he said.

"Don't assume they're abandoned; leave 'em alone," he said. "Oftentimes the cow is off feeding and will come back."

Likewise, a cow moose seen without a calf may have one nearby.

"You might not even know the calf is there," Young said.

A moose that raises its hackles, sways its head back and forth, salivates or puts its ears back is agitated and may have a calf, Young said.

"Those are all signs they're agitated, and it's probably a good idea to get out of there."

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