Long, long ago, I hit a moose while driving along Farmers Loop Road.
Luckily, I wasn’t driving very fast, just about 40 mph. I still marvel at how that moose came out of nowhere. My vehicle took out both its hind legs and it slid across the hood of my Honda Civic. Both of us ended up in the ditch. I crawled out of the car window.
Then, in true Alaska style, other drivers pulled over to help. The first driver got out of his vehicle, pulled out a gun, and shot and killed the moose. The second driver hooked up a tow strap to my car and pulled it out of the ditch.
Someone called Alaska State Troopers and I waited for the trooper to arrive. I was very lucky. I drove away from that encounter with minimal damage to my car and no injury to me.
All those memories came back to me late Saturday night when I drove home from a wedding and came upon someone else’s misfortune on the Parks Highway.
Huge thanks to the semi truck driver who stopped in the middle of the southbound lane of the highway and put on his emergency flashers. It saved me and other drivers from unexpectedly speeding into a gruesome scene.
Just ahead, a truck had hit a moose. I’ve seen plenty of road kills. However, this one was especially awful. At least a couple of the moose’s lower legs were severed; moose body parts were strewn across the highway. Even worse, the animal was still alive and suffering in the middle of the road.
Another driver pulled over and walked over to the semi and the moose. He had a pistol in hand, but after speaking with the semi driver, he returned to his vehicle without shooting the moose. The trooper was on the way.
My heart was breaking for that poor animal.
So I called troopers this week and asked for clarification on what official protocol is for shooting a moose fatally injured on a highway. And here it is: If you come upon a moose hit by a vehicle and it is still alive, call Alaska State Troopers. Do not shoot it yourself.
“Usually, we prefer to dispatch it ourselves,” the trooper dispatcher told me. This is in the interest of safety, she said. If there is a special circumstance and the trooper can’t get there in a reasonable amount of time, troopers will sometimes give permission for someone else to dispatch the moose.
Sounds very reasonable. But at that moment, I really wanted someone to shoot that moose and put it out of its misery. I didn’t stick around, so I presume the trooper arrived and dispatched the moose. And the driver who hit the moose? There were no ambulance calls to the scene, so hopefully the driver escaped injury.
Of course, the best thing is to avoid a collision with a moose. But that isn’t always an option.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.