Anchorage — State wildlife biologists this week will embark on an innovative, citizen assisted, ground-based survey to count moose in the Anchorage Bowl. And as with a pilot study conducted in February 2017, public participation is critical to success.
“Like last year, we’ll be collecting DNA samples from moose around the city and using genetics to identify moose relatedness,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Research Biologist Sean Farley. “This research approach is experimental, but we’re confident it will allow us to estimate the size of Anchorage’s moose population.”
Department research and management biologists are employing this novel ground-based technique because traditional aerial moose counts within the Anchorage Bowl are impractical due to flight restrictions imposed over the busy metropolitan area.
“The public’s help last year made all the difference,” said Farley. “We were able to test some critical logistics and determine that an intensive, full-scale effort was feasible in Anchorage.”
That full-scale effort will occur Friday, February 23, through Sunday, February 25, when citizens are again invited to report moose sightings within the Anchorage Bowl.
Sightings may be reported by:
Phone at 267-2530;
Text message at 782-5051; or
Online at www.adfg.alaska.gov
Reports should include the number of moose observed, the time of the sighting and, most importantly, the location of the moose. Department staff will use that information to locate moose and, using specialized darts, collect DNA samples. The darts are designed to strike moose lightly, collect a skin sample in the tip, and fall to the ground to be gathered after the animal leaves. DNA samples associated with the survey are also gathered during the year from local road kills and hunter harvests.
“This technology has the potential to improve our knowledge and management of Anchorage area moose populations,” said Area Wildlife Biologist Dave Battle. “However, the laboratory analyses will take some time before we have numbers to report.”
Safety is a critical concern with this project. Moose can be dangerous and citizens are reminded to avoid approaching moose or department survey teams collecting DNA samples. Staff wearing flare-orange vests with stencils clearly identifying them as Department of Fish and Game employees will be using dart projectors that closely resemble long-guns or hunting rifles. Additionally, staff will be driving state trucks marked with the department logo.
Project expenses are covered by funds generated by hunters and shooting sports enthusiasts through payment of federal taxes on firearms, ammunition, and archery equipment, and through state hunting license and tag fees.
For more information about the Anchorage moose count pilot study, contact Ken Marsh at 267-2892 or email@example.com.