Six Fort Richardson moose are dead as the result of drugs administered during a study by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the department said Monday. The six cows were among 13 moose tranquilized, fitted with radio collars and then revived in mid-March. They seemed fine immediately afterward but died within days. The deaths were not publicly revealed until Monday.
State officials say they believe the deaths are linked to "possible problems with several bottles of the drug" given to the moose to reverse the effects of the tranquilizers. They say all plans for tranquilizing additional moose to fit them with radio collars have been put on hold awaiting a final determination of what caused the deaths.
The moose were being given collars as part of a study to track travel corridors on Fort Rich and the adjacent Elmendorf Air Force Base. The two military installations are home to an estimated 500 moose.
Wildlife deaths during radio-collaring operations are normal but usually only about 5 percent of the animals captured end up dead -- not 46 percent.