BY Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western JournalJune 24, 2023
1 year ago
 | June 24, 2023
1 year ago

Aggressive Moose Stumbles Strangely Through Tiny Alaskan Town, They Kill the Charging Beast and Notice a Horrifying First

It's not unusual for Alaskans to see a moose, even within city limits.

And it's not even rare for one of the huge animals to charge people and other wildlife.

But residents of Teller, Alaska, knew something was different about the moose stumbling around their town recently.

“It was drooling and being very aggressive towards people and it was wobbly, unstable on its legs,” Kimberlee Beckmen told the Anchorage Daily News. “That was very unusual behavior.”

Beckmen is a wildlife veterinarian with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

The veterinarian's department received multiple reports about the animal in Teller, which is about 70 miles northwest of Nome, the Daily News reported.

The animal was killed and brain tissue samples were found to contain the rabies virus, according to the report.

Beckmen said the moose's carcass was burned so the virus wouldn’t spread to any scavengers.

It was the first recorded case of rabies in a moose, not just in Alaska, but also in North America, according to a news release from Doug Vincent-Lang, commissioner at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"Rabies diagnoses in moose are rare, but there have been moose diagnosed with rabies in Europe," he said.

The official added that the virus was found to be an arctic fox rabies variant, "suggesting the moose contracted the virus from a fox."

Because of the new case, the fish and game department plans to test brain samples from all wild mammals found dead or euthanized from regions of the state where fox rabies virus is known to circulate.

They've asked the public to report mammals -- alive or dead -- with any signs of rabies, such as excessive salivation, abnormal and/or aggressive behavior and bite marks.

"Pictures or videos of the animal are helpful, but it is important to not come into contact with a potentially rabid animal or carcass," they cautioned.

"Due to the largely solitary nature of moose, it is very unlikely that any rabies outbreak will occur in the moose population," the news release added.

The department advised hunters that moose in the Seward Peninsula that appear healthy and display normal behavior should be considered safe to consume.

"Precautions when butchering moose or other mammals for human consumption would include using rubber or latex gloves," they continued. "When done handling game wash hands thoroughly with soap or disinfectant, and disinfect knives, equipment and surfaces that were in contact with game.

"You should not eat, drink or smoke while handing game, and should cook the game to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F."

They recommended vaccinating dogs and cats against rabies and preventing pets from interacting with wildlife.

The potentially fatal virus is transmissible to humans, the Daily News reported, adding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only receives between one and three cases per year in humans.

"If a person is bitten by a wild animal or a pet that may have been exposed to rabies, immediately wash the wound with soap and water and seek medical attention," the fish and game department advised.

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

Written by: Lorri Wickenhauser, The Western Journal



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