Delta Junction watches for albino moose

Posted: Monday, October 19, 2009

FAIRBANKS - An albino moose calf is making the rounds in Delta Junction, which makes for big news in the small town 100 miles southeast of Fairbanks.

While white-phase and albino moose have been seen in the Fairbanks area and around Healy in recent years, this is the first time a white moose has been spotted in Delta.

"I've been here almost 40 years, and I've never heard of any other albino moose," said Dave Davenport, a wildlife technician at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Delta Junction. "I think this is a first for the Delta area."

The white moose calf, accompanied by its brown mother, have been frequent visitors to Kim Ipsen's home on Tanana Loop Extension.

"It was here for four days straight with the mom and then they left for a few days and showed back up with two bulls," Ipsen said.

Seeing a white moose is "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," she said. "It's been amazing."

The mother is not skittish or aggressive when it comes to protecting the calf, said Ipsen, who has crept within about 100 feet of the calf as it grazed on the 20 acres the family owns.

Ipsen thinks the moose like hanging out at her homestead, in part, because she has two horses - one brown and one a pale golden palamino.

"I think they feel like they fit in here," she said.

Her six kids let her know when the albino moose shows up.

"The kids get all excited and start running around the house yelling, 'It's here! It's here,'" she said.

Wildlife biologists hadn't seen the albino moose calf at last report, though they had made a few attempts.

"You'd think it'd be pretty easy to spot, but that hasn't been the case," Davenport said.

"It's out there somewhere. It's been in the Tanana Loop-Clearwater Lake-Jack Warren Road area."

It will get even tougher to find once the snow falls, he said.

While Davenport can't recall any albino moose in Delta, the Delta Bison Herd had several albinos in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he said.

"We had six of them here at one time," Davenport said. "The Delta Bison Herd had the highest incidence of albino bison in the world back then."

The young moose is safe from hunters because it is illegal to shoot a calf, Davenport said.

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