In Anchorage, Alaska, residents' trash has increasingly become moose's treasure. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game recently reported that the moose activity of nosing through abandoned cuisine has steadily escalated in the past 15 years. March and April are the worst months because the winter food supply in the wild grows scarce and hungry moose lumber into the city in higher numbers.
So what's the harm in a little garbage grazing? Like humans, moose often turn grumpy when hungry, and if there isn't any food around when they come looking, they're more likely to lash out at someone.
Although moose aren't more dangerous than bears in terms of behavior, they pose a greater threat of injuring you simply because of their population size. Moose outnumber bears nearly three to one in Alaska, wounding around five to 10 people in the state annually. That's more than grizzly bear and black bear attacks combined [source: Smith].
Despite the incidence rates, moose do not tend toward natural aggression. The largest species of the deer family, Alaskan moose are the biggest in the world. But their size betrays their generally passive demeanor. Feeding off plants and tree bark, these herbivores munch on willows, birches and grasses by the pound. During the barren winter, when moose can't get their lips on these natural foods, Anchorage watches the trash-seeking moose population balloon to around 1,000.
So when does Bullwinkle start to bully? Read the next page to learn what provokes a moose to go on the offense and how you should react.