ANCHORAGE - Itchy to rub antlers and aroused for fall mating season, bull moose have been tangling with hammocks this week.
The hammocks are winning.
At least three moose have been caught since Sunday and four more have been reported snarled in hammocks or swing set chains over the past two weeks, said Jessy Coltrane, assistant area biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
"I get a call every day almost," she said Tuesday on her way back from rescuing the latest victim on the city's east side.
"I took a hammock off a moose on Sunday. I had a call on Monday that I couldn't find. And now today."
Coltrane suggested that residents take down their hammocks or tie up swings so that bulls aren't tempted to joust. "We're just asking people to help the moose out," she said.
The situation happens every fall when adult males bang and rub their antlers against objects to remove summer velvet. With hormones starting to rage, the bulls also become more rambunctious as they start following cows and confronting other males.
Dragging around children's swings or hammocks makes these cranky animals get even more riled and likely to get hurt. Last year, one moose was found dead with its tines wrapped in plastic. Others have gotten snarled in volleyball nets, swing sets and flagging.
The animals could get tangled or snagged in brush or trees, Coltrane said.
"The worst case scenario is they can't get loose and they starve to death. Or another bull comes along and beats the snot out of them."
This fall, two moose had hammocks wrapped so tightly around their antlers that Coltrane had to tranquilize the animals to cut the material free. Another moose had broken off part of its rack.
On Tuesday, a commuter reported a bull dragging a hammock. By the time Coltrane arrived, the agitated animal was walking in the street with the material draped over its face. When a barking dog startled it, the moose tripped and almost fell. Coltrane then shot it with a tranquilizer dart, cut off the material and woke the moose up.