ANCHORAGE, Alaska - Two Alaska women were stomped by moose Thursday as they walked children to bus stops.
A woman in Talkeetna, about 100 miles north of Anchorage, suffered injuries to her lower leg. The other woman had injuries to her ribs in a stomping near Willow, about 50 miles north of Anchorage. She was taken to a hospital, Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said.
No children were hurt in either incident. Peters says both women placed themselves between the moose and the children to protect them.
In the Talkeetna attack, the woman was escorting two children to the bus stop. Once the moose appeared, one child was able to get away, and the woman positioned the other child behind her near a snow bank to take the brunt of the attack.
In the Willow encounter, the woman was walking one child to the bus stop when she saw the moose and protected the child.
"She was knocked to the ground and stated that the incident only lasted a few seconds, and the moose ran away," Peters said.
Troopers responded to both attacks but couldn't locate either moose.
Moose encounters in Alaska are growing this year because of heavy snow. Moose have become agitated after having to walk through the snow to find food. Oftentimes they use roadways and cleared paths as a means of least resistance, putting them in the paths of people and vehicles.
Peters said officials are getting a lot of calls about moose, whether it's the ungulates on people's porches or in their yards.
"Not all of them are moose attacks or charges," she said of the calls. "But there's a lot of moose around and they're not happy."
"Because an 'aggressive encounter' means different things to different people, it is difficult to quantify the exact number of reports, and we know that not every moose encounter is reported to the department," Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Lem Butler said in a written statement.
"What we can say is that we are receiving considerably more reports than what we receive during a typical winter with less snow accumulation," Butler said.
His department has received reports from throughout the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, the Anchorage area and on the Kenai Peninsula.
Peters said moose that have found food are becoming territorial about those places.
Alaskans accustomed to walking by moose year-round should be more careful this time of the year.
Officials encourage people to carry pepper spray to use in case of an attack.
"It's a gamble right now whether they are going to attack or not because they are hungry," she said. "You might see these guys very single day. They're still wild animals, and they're very capable of causing you harm."