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State funding denied, Alaska Moose Federation turns to public

Craig Medred
The federation is asking for help from local governments and individual Alaskans, saying its dead moose retrieval program is in jeopardy because its $2.2 million funding request to the Alaska Legislature was denied. Loren Holmes photo

Unable to convince the state Legislature that with a little more state money the Alaska Moose Federation can do better what public volunteers have done for free for decades, the Anchorage-based organization has gone public with an appeal for funds.

The Kenai Peninsula Clarion reports the federation is asking for help from local governments and individual Alaskans because its "well-utilized dead moose retrieval program is in jeopardy after the organization ... was denied its $2.2 million funding request to the Alaska Legislature."

The federation picked up about 150 moose carcasses on the Kenai last year and delivered them to charities. In the past, charities or low-income Alaskans interested in road-kill moose -- which usually provide hundreds of pounds of high-quality meat -- were required to register with Alaska State Troopers, who then put together a call-list of people to summon after accidents involving moose and motor vehicles.

The program wasn't perfect. Volunteers did a lot of work. Troopers said some of them didn't respond on occasion. And there were concerns about the safety of people butchering dead moose along busy roadways, though there were no reports of anyone being seriously injured.

Given those things, the moose federation convinced the Legislature it would be a good idea to buy the federation a fleet of 13 trucks equipped for moose retrieval to increase the efficiency of operations. The trucks are now largely parked instead of out cruising.

"The organization scaled back their salvage efforts in response to the funding denial," according to the Clarion. "Typically volunteer drivers of moose federation trucks are 'on call' 24 hours a day. Now the trucks remain parked until a driver gets a call from Alaska State Troopers about a moose that needs to be picked up, resulting in a longer response time."

Federation founder and executive director Gary Olson is warning that if funding isn't found by fall, the start of the period in which most collisions between moose and motor vehicles take place, the trucks could be parked for good.

Olson said local communities and individuals are all being asked to help.

"We’re regionalizing the program,” he told the Clarion. “If, say, Fairbanks all of the sudden comes to the aid, Fairbanks is going to (get moose carcass pickup). If Kenai says ‘We’re going ... this is important, we’re going to do it,’ then it’s going to go in Kenai. Money from Kenai is not going to go to Mat-Su and vice versa.”

The organization needs about $130,000 a year to keep its fleet of trucks on the road all the time. Contributions can be made to the Federation via its website.

The federation, which came to the fore during the reign of former Gov. Sarah Palin, was set up as an Alaska non-profit corporation and registered with the Internal Revenue Service as such, but had some struggles with its status as a tax deductible charity.

The latest Internal Revenue Service records, however, indicate contributions to the federation are partially tax deductible. The federation’s tax status is as a foundation.

"The main advantage of a private foundation over a public charity is that the donor, together with family or friends whom the donor selects, can control and directly carry out the foundation’s activities," notes a legal primer on the subject.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com