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Heavy snowfall threatens Alaska moose

Craig Medred
YouTube via keithdraycott

All the moose in Valdez, Alaska, are dead, suffocated beneath snow over head high. OK, so there haven't been moose there for a long time, but they are all dead. The reason is snow. Not even moose can survive when it piles up as deep as it does Valdez every winter.

And now moose are in trouble elsewhere with a whole lot of Alaska being hit with Valdez-deep snow. So far, the Juneau Empire reports, most moose deaths have involved animals that take to plowed streets or railroad tracks to avoid battling through deep snow.

But the point is fast approaching where moose could be in danger of dying from starvation. Winters in Alaska are always tough for moose, but if they can get around to find willow branches on which to browse, they can survive. Willow twigs don't provide great nourishment, but they are enough of a supplement to the average moose's fat stores to get through the winter.

Sans that supplement, the moose are in trouble. And in many parts of Alaska the snow is now getting deep enough that moose can't get around to find browse. The animals struck and killed instantly by a locomotive from the Alaska Railroad might be in some ways the lucky moose.

Starvation is a slow, agonizing death.

Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com