Craig Medred / Outdoors / Anchorage Daily News / December 4, 2005
Drunken moose are on the loose in Scandinavia.
This time it's a family in Sweden having problems with a big, dumb, stumbling ungulate. No word on whether the animal slurs its grunts and moans.
"I am terrified. It can be dangerous when it's drunk,'' Laila von Scheele told Expressen, a Swedish newspaper.
She's afraid to let her children and pets out of the house. Efforts to drive the moose away have failed.
The problem is fermenting fruit. Two years ago, Norwegian officials issued a "drunken moose alert" for southern Norway for the same reason, according to "News from Norway'' at www.aftenposten.no.
A sudden and early snowfall buried newly fallen fruit, which then fermented, according to Norwegian wildlife officials. Moose feasting on the fermenting fruit ended up drunk.
Be thankful we don't have many apple or pear trees here.
Von Scheele said the problem in her yard in Sweden this year is fermenting apples from the family's 10 trees. A moose discovered this bounty and moved in. It eats all it can, stumbles around the yard and finally falls asleep, Von Scheele said.
Norwegian officials have warned that drunken moose can be even more unpredictable and dangerous than sober moose.
"Their behavior can alter, and they can become frighteningly aggressive,'' Martin Kolberg, head of the animal committee in Telemark, told www.aftenposten.no.
Apparently, drunken moose are a lot like drunken people. Some get overly friendly and some get really belligerent.
And we like to think we have moose problems in Alaska.
Of course, we like to think we have lots of moose too. But not compared with Scandinavia.
Norway and Sweden combined cover an area of about 300,000 square miles. That's roughly half the size of Alaska. And yet those two countries have more than twice as many moose as the 49th state.
Sweden boasts the highest moose density of any country at about 1 1/2 moose per square mile. Alaska, overall, has about three-tenths of a moose per square mile, though there are areas -- like Anchorage -- where the animals are far more plentiful.
By Alaska standards, Anchorage has an unnaturally high moose population, which might have something to do with the fact no one has found a socially acceptable way to kill moose in the city. Shooting them is largely ruled out because some people don't like hunting. Inviting the grizzly bears and wolves in to harvest them is widely unacceptable because everyone fears the possibility of getting caught between a predator and his dinner.
Thus Anchorage's moose killing is done by motor vehicles.
In Anchorage, the cars get the moose. But in Norway, it would appear, sometimes the moose get the cars.
Consider this report from www.aftenposten.no:
"Flying moose lands on car's roof
"A leisurely Sunday drive came to an abrupt halt for a couple in southern Norway over the weekend when a fully grown moose suddenly landed on the roof of their car. 'We didn't even have to time to think when there came this enormous thud,' said a shaken Leo Henriksen
"He and his wife were cruising along the two-lane Highway 405 in their little, red Mazda. The couple was a few kilometers south of Vatnestrom when their involuntary encounter with the moose took place.
"The moose, a female weighing about 770 pounds, apparently had been running through the forest when she suddenly came upon a cliff leading down to the highway."
Can you say Wiley Coyote?
"Unable to stop, the moose seemed to literally fly off the cliff, landing first on the Henriksen's car before catapulting further into the oncoming lane.
"The moose-versus-motorist drama ended when Randi Olsen, driving in the oncoming lane with her young daughter, was unable to stop and hit the moose now lying in the road.''
Fortunately, none of the parties involved -- other than the moose -- were seriously injured. The moose died.
Let this be a reminder to always be alert when driving. Remember, moose can come from any direction at any time.
And bizarre moose encounters are funny only if you survive them. Then, they're good for entertainment, as the Norwegians obviously understand.
On www.aftenposten.no last week, the "Drunken moose terrorizes family'' story was the site's most read feature.
It was also packaged with a list of related stories that, along with "Flying moose lands on car's roof,'' included these:
* Angry moose chases joggers
* Moose attacked moose statue
* Moose rings twice
* Moose attacks laundry rack
* Moose breaks into grocery store
* 'Dead' moose attacked hunter
* Hungry moose head to town
Sounds a lot like home, doesn't it?
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