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Alaska Digest

Posted: Monday, July 17, 2006

Commissioner lays out restrictions on moose rescue money

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ANCHORAGE - The state has approved $50,000 to rescue orphan moose calves but a rescue group will not see the money until it comes up with a solid plan for spending it, according to Fish and Game Commissioner McKie Campbell.

Gary Olson of the Alaska Moose Federation wants to rescue orphaned moose calves and relocate them from the Anchorage area to parts of rural Alaska deemed short of moose.

The federation won a $50,000 state grant to do that when the governor signed the capital budget.

Gov. Frank Murkowski knew some of his staff had concerns about such an appropriation but decided against a veto, said spokesman John Manly.

"The governor felt like there was a public purpose to be served," said Manly.

Murkowski directed the money only be spent to relocate motherless moose and not for administrative expenses.

Moose have been successfully relocated but some state officials say there are major glitches this time. Campbell, the Fish and Game commissioner, laid out his concerns in a letter to Olson.

Lone young calves are rare, Campbell said. Moving a few calves to an area with a moose population depressed by winters, bad browse or predators will not result in significant increases, he and other department leaders said.

Also, the moose federation has not proven it can move calves, feed them without allowing them to bond to humans, and release them, Campbell said. The federation has to come up with a solid plan before it gets permission to move calves and use state money, he said.

Olson, 35, founded the moose federation and has been working as its nonpaid director for nearly three years, he said. It has raised less than $25,000 annually for each of the past three years, he said.



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