It’s hard to describe how Alaskans see moose. In most other places of the country, they’re kind of a rarity. People come to Alaska and oftentimes one of their main goals is to see one of these “rare creatures.” In fact, when we moved here…I was one of those people. I’m not sure I had ever seen a moose before in the wild. If I had, it had been a rare occasion. But all that changed when we were introduced to moose in Alaska.
Change of Perspective
I remember seeing moose in Alaska for the first time. We were almost at the end of our long drive from Washington D.C. to our new home. The final day of driving, we saw three moose. I took a picture of every single one. It seemed so different. So unique. So cool. It was, and still is, cool. Truly. But it’s funny how your mindset changes as you adjust to your new surroundings.
A few months after we moved to Alaska, we were driving home from an event. It was about an hour drive through some fairly populated areas. We counted 26 moose in that one hour. There is a pretty unique sign on many roads in Alaska. On it are written the words “Moose killed on area roads since July 1st.” The sign that we pass most with this count last updated to 289…but this update was at the beginning of April. So it was missing 3 months worth of data when they changed it back to zero. The previous year, they updated it in June and the count was in the 360s. Just another reality of moose in Alaska.
One Alaskan View
I was trying to describe moose in Alaska to a friend on Instagram the other day. It is possible many people will disagree with me but this is how I explained it: “They’re kinda like rats up here, except way cooler. We have hundreds of them simply get hit by cars in our area every single year. They eat our gardens and destroy our fruit trees. But seriously, I really do love them. It’s just funny how they are normal cool animals now though…with a little bit of a pest instinct. You know, a pest that can kill you if it gets ticked off. But just to reiterate – they’re still super cool and awesome and I LOVE them. It’s just funny how perspectives change.” I probably should have mentioned that it is also sort of a rite of passage into “true Alaskan” territory if you hit a moose in Alaska with your car. We haven’t hit one yet, and I really hope we never do. I don’t feel the necessity of reaching that level of Alaskan. But I can say that we’ve come EXTREMELY close to having that experience at least four times. (As in slam on the brakes and barely stop in time…or slam on the brakes, know you can’t stop in time, but the moose swerves away so there is no impact.)
Moose Killed Road Signs
It’s also not uncommon to drive through unpopulated areas and see no moose at all. You know they are there, and you’ll see the warning signs for the moose literally everywhere, you just won’t see them. Lots of open space also means lots of hiding spaces. It’s easier to avoid them. But then you drive into Anchorage, turn into a neighborhood and there they all are. Moose in Alaska. Mama moose and her twin calves eating someone’s trees. Another moose with a giant rack just lying down in someone’s front yard. He certainly doesn’t see anything unique about his position. He’s just taking his afternoon rest. As for the residents? It’s not all that unique either. You learn to give the moose space, take some pictures, and post the Facebook status, “Going to go to the store later. Moose is lying down between my door and the car.” Or you hop on Facebook, and everyone is sharing a video of a moose checking out the fake plants inside a hospital lobby during the dead of winter. The funny part about this movie is that no one seems all that surprised. Half the people give the moose a glance, smile a bit, and keep walking. After all, it’s just another moose in Alaska. This one just happens to be inside.
In the exact location where we live, we don’t have as many moose. They’re literally right around the corner, but they don’t enter our neighborhood that often. I’m honestly okay with that fact. I don’t have to worry about the kids as much, and my gardening adventures gets the added benefit of not having to wonder what day the moose will have it for lunch. But I will say, that one of the current discussions being had between all the HOA members of our neighborhood is directly influenced by the moose in Alaska. Half the neighborhood want street lights installed on the bus route so that kids don’t run into a moose in the dark during the winter; the other half of the neighborhood do not want street lights because that makes it harder to see the Northern Lights during the winter. Two Alaska experiences…they just happen to be butting heads at the moment.
Moose in Alaska
I want to reiterate that I love moose in Alaska. I love seeing them all the time. And they don’t get boring. But…it’s also possible for them to become “normal.” While I still get excited every single time I see them, it’s a calm excitement. I don’t get the dump of adrenaline of seeing a moose anymore. I honestly expect to see them. They’re a part of our life now. And that’s a new perspective and added blessing to have in this experience as life as an Alaskan.