By Herman Griese, JBER Wildlife Biologist
Every Halloween, moose in inhabited areas – like JBER’s housing – detect a scent in the air alerting them to the opportunity to add a little color to their diet – pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns. There must be something in pumpkins that is especially attractive for some moose because they throw caution to the wind and walk right onto porches to feast on these rotund members of the squash family.
And in base housing, so close to moose habitat, the large number of pumpkins is too tempting to the average moose.
Each moose attracted to pumpkins becomes a safety issue for base residents.
Not too many autumns ago, in new Moose Crossing housing, a large bull was caught in the middle of the day chowing down on a jack-o-lantern at the front entry to a housing unit.
The bull completed his treat and with much coaxing finally left the front of the housing unit.
This incident could have been especially tense had an unaware resident stepped out the door without looking, or worse, stepped out with a dog in tow.
The immediate nearness of a potential threat to the moose could have resulted in a short but deadly attack.
All families who celebrate Halloween with pumpkin and jack-o-lantern displays should be aware of this potentially dangerous situation, and limit displays outside the home to the evening of Halloween or just use an artificial jack-o-lantern.
Be aware that no matter how close to Halloween, if a moose is caught feeding on your pumpkin, jack-o-lantern or decorations such as hay, cornstalks, or straw, the end result will be the same – a $325 ticket.
Alaska law prohibits the feeding of moose, bears, wolves, foxes or wolverine.
JBER’s conservation agents, who enforce state regulations on base, warn that there are several moose hanging close to Moose Crossing and Cherry Hill, just waiting for some tasty Halloween pumpkins.
Avoid an expensive ticket. Place your pumpkin or jack-o-lantern outside the evening of Halloween and remove it before going to bed.
You can bet that a moose nearby is waiting for an opportunity to “trick or treat.”