Moose didn’t stop crossing the road when the Alaska Moose Federation closed up shop late last year. And there are hungry families who can use fresh moose meat — even if the harvest is non-traditional, once moose have been killed by cars on the road.
But without the Moose Federation, the salvage work is largely up to charities. And it’s hard work.
“If they can’t do it, then they’re denying the moose,” said Laurie Speakman, known as Laurie the Moose Lady.
Speakman was the Moose Federation truck driver on the Kenai for years. The federation shut down in November due to a lack of funds, legal troubles and a decline in memberships.
Previously, charities on the peninsula took out memberships with the Moose Federation. Volunteer drivers, like Speakman, would pick up moose roadkill in federation trucks and bring the meat to members, who would distribute it to people who could use it.
Now, law enforcement calls charities directly. Speakman said without the organized support from AMF volunteers, moose often end up sitting on the road longer.
“I do feel that there is a need to have some sort of general program, ’cause some of the charities just aren’t doing it, but they still want the meat,” she said.
Not all the charities on the list have the bandwidth to send someone to a site. Speakman said the local branch of Veterans Affairs, for example, has had a hard time responding to moose calls and has had to pass on collecting carcasses.
It’s something she thinks could be fixed with an individual salvage team — a model used in other parts of the state.
“In order to set up a salvage team, like let’s say I would run it, as an example, under Laurie the Moose Lady, or figure out a different name,” she said. “My high hopes would be to completely be able to work with Fish and Game, Wildlife Troopers, State Troopers and local PD.”
Speakman and a friend are trying to develop a plan to create their own team, but she said funding is a huge barrier. Between trucks, insurance, and fuel, costs are steep. Speakman considered buying a truck from Moose Federation Executive Director Don Dyer but said it was too expensive.
“’Cause I do. I really miss picking up moose right now,” she said.