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Moose Federation teams up with city for safer moose-kill salvage

February 24, 2010
  • Aaron Bloomquist, a volunteer for the Alaska Moose Federation, spends many of his evenings retrieving roadkill moose. (Joshua Borough/KTUU-DT)
Aaron Bloomquist, a volunteer for the Alaska Moose Federation, spends many of his evenings retrieving roadkill moose. (Joshua Borough/KTUU-DT)

by Jackie Bartz
Tuesday, February 23, 2010

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Waking up in the middle of the night and driving across town to load a 1,200 pound moose into the back of your truck-- believe it or not, it's a job the Alaska Moose Federation volunteers do for free.

When Aaron Bloomquist gets a call, he hits the road as quick as he can.

"Basically after dinner family time is moose time," Bloomquist said.

Bloomquist is the go-to guy for the moose salvage program.

"The crux of it is to get moose quickly off of the roadway, into a vehicle, so people don't have to be out on the side of the road cutting moose up and just in danger from passing traffic and that kind of stuff," Bloomquist said.

More than 100 moose are hit and killed by vehicles in Anchorage every year.

The meat is given to local charities.

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In the past, charity workers were responsible for picking up the moose, a task that's not very easy without the right equipment. 

"The troopers would call you at any time of day or night, at any location really, it may be in the fast lane on the outbound Glenn and you'd have to go out and get it from wherever the moose is, to wherever you are, however you can do it. So if you didn't have a truck you were out there with the kitchen knives," Bloomquist said.

To protect passing cars and charity workers, police officers stood on scene, sometimes for hours.

"Butchering it alongside the road creates a lot of problems, both a traffic hazard and it's an attractive nuisance. People watching as that happens, they often have accidents," said Anchorage Police Lt. Dave Parker.

In December the Municipality of Anchorage teamed up with the Alaska Moose Federation.

Thanks to a state grant, the non-profit outfitted four trucks.

"This is a really simple operation. We've got a custom-made frame up here for a 10,000-pound winch. We pull that off, we've got loops that go around the legs of a moose and we just hook it up to this winch and suck it right up on the truck," Bloomquist explained.

Alaska Moose Federation volunteers now pick up every dead moose.

They do it in record time and around the clock.   

"Our average response time is about 15 minutes, and our average pickup time once we get to the road is about seven minutes," Bloomquist said.

The new system cuts costs for the city and makes it easier to salvage the meat for charities.

"So there are many charities that have been put on a list to receive the meat from a roadkill moose and then the Moose Federation will come out and actually pick up the carcass and take it wherever the charity wants it taken," Parker explained.

For volunteers like Bloomquist, it's odd hours, inconvenient locations and zero pay.

But he doesn't mind. He's keeping his community safe, one pickup at a time.

Alaska Moose Federation volunteers have picked up around 25 moose since they started in December.

Contact Jackie Bartz at jbartz@ktuu.com

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