Moose Sign. Photo by Kelly Sullivan
Peninsula Clarion Tom Netschert, Ron McAlpin, Jesse Bjorkman. Members of Board of Directors for the Alaska Kenai Peninsula Chapter SCI. 8.29.2014.
“The driver said the last thing he saw was the moose’s head and the next thing he knew he was in the ditch.” – Sullivan, Kelly. Peninsula Clarion. September 2, 2014.
SCI Foundation and Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Chapter of SCI have been working with the Alaska Department of Transportation (AKDOT) for at least 5 years. On the Kenai Peninsula, hundreds of moose-vehicle collisions take the lives of both human and wildlife every year. Many of the signs intended to warn drivers on long Alaskan highways and roads, some with high speed limits, serve as the only caution of the massive 7-foot-tall, 1,400-pound ungulate. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG), most collisions occur in the dark during the snowy months of December, January, and February, the time of year when the sun can be out for as little as 6 hours each day.
Photos courtesy of Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Chapter SCI
In collaboration with the AKDOT, additional large yellow, “Moose Crash Area” signs have been installed thanks to SCI Foundation’s support. Together, we plan to install 3 new signs to replace worn signs in an area second only to the Mat-Su Valley in the average number of moose-vehicle collisions. The Kenai Peninsula has an estimated 6,000 moose and it is estimated that 250 moose are struck each year on the road. 90% are either female or calves according to the ADFG with an unknown number of collisions going unreported.
Photos courtesy of Kenai Peninsula News. Winter 2013-2014.
The Kenai Peninsula is also the home of a former SCI Foundation project, the Kenai Moose Predation Study. This research project aided wildlife biologists in analyzing the factors contributing to a decline in the local moose population. According to the ADFG, the Kenai Peninsula is divided into three subunits of Game Management Unit 15; 15A, 15B, and 15C. The moose population decreased in 15A, remained stable in 15B, and increased in 15C. In 2012, it was estimated that two-third of all moose killed by humans in the Kenai Peninsula died by vehicle-collision.
Photo by Rashah McChesney.
Peninsula Clarion A volunteer Alaska Moose Federation driver removes a dead moose from the Kenai Spur Highway Thursday 12.13.2013 in Kenai. Alaska.
Although most vehicle-collisions do not result in a human fatality, in fact most are able to walk away with minor scrapes and bruises, the average human and societal cost of each crash is about $34,000. However, the moose are often killed at the scene of the crash, die slowly from their injuries, or pass away from stress, even if the only injury sustained is a broken leg. Each sign that will be installed contains constantly updated count of the number of moose killed. The images of moose are those of a cow and calf, the most likely to be struck by a vehicle. SCI Foundation is proud to continue this valuable work that not only places a priority on maintaining viable populations to be harvested, we are proud to contribute to a project that will save both moose and human lives.