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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Roped moose not affected by Taser attempt

February 15, 2011
Fairbanks Daily News Miner

FAIRBANKS — Biologists with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have failed in their attempts to Taser a cow moose roaming a Fairbanks neighborhood with a rope around its neck, so they decided to let nature take its course.

The moose was Tasered Feb. 4 in the Hamilton Acres subdivision in east Fairbanks, with the hope it would be stunned enough the rope could be removed. Biologists used a special wildlife Taser shipped from Southeast, but the instrument did not disable the moose.

The rope remained after a group of good Samaritans pulled the moose out of the Chena River on Jan. 2. It had fallen through the ice.

“We got a couple shots at her, but we couldn’t get both probes to stick, probably because of her thick winter hair,” said Fairbanks area biologist Don Young.

Biologist Tony Hollis was the trigger man. He shot the moose from 25 feet, the maximum distance for the Taser to be effective.

“We just could not get a good shot at 25 feet,” Hollis said.

The moose “showed no reaction as if it had got shocked,” he said. “It was more of a reaction to hearing the Taser go off — it sounds like a cap gun going off — and she took off.”

At that point, biologists decided to leave the cow, which was accompanied by a calf. After watching the cow during the course of two days while they tried to get in position to Taser the moose, biologists determined the rope is not hindering her ability to breathe, eat or walk.

“She’s not inhibited by the rope,” Young said. “We watched her feed and it doesn’t bother her. The rope is not hanging up on anything. It tracks right between her legs. It’s a pretty short rope.”

It was the first time state wildlife officials used a Taser on an animal in the northern region of the state, Hollis said. Officials in Southcentral and Southeast have experimented with the Taser on animals, he said.

“Using a Taser was attractive because, in theory, it drops the moose, you can run up to it, remove the rope and let her go,” Hollis said. “That was the plan.”

Biologists don’t want to use drugs to tranquilize the moose because if something went wrong and the moose died, or it was hit by a car and killed within the next few months, the meat would not be salvageable. The meat of drugged animals can’t be eaten for 90 days.

There’s a chance the rope could get caught on a tree limb and be pulled off, Young said. The rope also is “kind of rotten,” according to the man who put the loop around the moose’s neck during the rescue operation and who contacted Young.

The cow appears to be in “really good shape” Young said.

“She looks like she’s pregnant,” he said. “She’s definitely carrying some weight.”

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