By Carey Restino
Several homeowners in Homer watched sadly this week as a moose struggled on the beach near the Homer seawall and finally drowned as the tide came in Saturday night, leaving at least one resident wondering why the moose wasn’t put down.
Resident Charlene Jump said in an email that when she first noticed the moose on the beach, she first thought it had wandered over from Bishop’s Beach.
“She tried to move around but kept sinking down in her hindquarters and when she did take a few steps, it was wobbly and she moved in circles,” Jump wrote.
Jump said she called the Homer Police and reported the moose, hoping someone would come to put the animal down humanely. An officer showed up but left without dealing with the animal.
“Nothing was done and no one showed up to help and we witnessed her fall and (be) unable to get back up,” Jump wrote.
The moose then drowned.
Homer Police Lt. William Hutt said the report from Saturday night shows Homer police responded and found the animal appeared to be disoriented and confused. Troopers, as well as Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologists were notified, he said.
Hutt said while it’s not outside the jurisdiction of police officers to deal with an animal in cases such as an automobile collision, often, Homer Police notify Fish and Game or state Trooper Wildlife officers involved.
In this case, however, it would appear than no one from the other agencies was available to respond.
Thomas McDonough, a research biologist with Fish and Game, said he was notified about the moose after it was already dead, but was unable to respond Saturday night. He said another state Fish and Game biologist was unavailable.
McDonough said it sounds like from the description that the moose was suffering from some sort of neurological disorder. In such cases, he said, the moose would likely be put down, although it is hard to make such determinations from a phone call.
According to the Anchor Point Alaska State Trooper office, wildlife troopers were not available to respond until Sunday morning.
McDonough said generally, calls of this nature are responded to.
“It usually works pretty well when staff is available but sometimes things don’t work as perfectly as they could,” he said.
Jump wrote that she was frustrated by watching the animal suffer, and questioned why the situation wasn’t handled differently.
“This is what our taxpayer dollars go for,” she wrote. “They can shoot a healthy moose right in front of the high school, but not this injured animal.”
McDonough said Monday he planned to try to get down to the beach and see if there was anything left of the moose that he might be able to sample to determine what was wrong with it.
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