On-road moose deaths down this winter

Mar 1, 2018

The tally on the dozen signs along Kenai Peninsula roads that records the number of moose killed in automobile collisions is relatively low this winter. 

Currently standing at 48, Tom Netschert of the local Safari Club International will change it again in early this month when he gets the latest update.

“In regards to the roadkill, yes. We update them each month. That’s part of our project with SCI. Conservation, public safety project with the state (to) keep people informed on what’s going on on the roads,” he said.

Netschert says he’s seen as many as “230 or 240” moose killed in one winter by collisions with cars. There are no scoreboards for the human toll, though.

“You know you can get killed. That’s problem. You hit a deer or an elk in the Lower 48 where I grew up it’s not so bad,” he said. “But, boy you hit one of these moose, you’re putting your life in your hands.”

When hearing which roads Netschert thought were the most problematic, it quickly becomes apparent that the issue is a problem pretty much everywhere, just in varying degrees.

“The Kenai Spur, was an A-road. They had an A, B, and C. Going down toward Homer that’s kind of a C route, we’re not getting as many kills. The Sterling Highway out towards Sterling, a little past, the Sterling Highway, Bridge Access, K-Beach, past Kenai on the Spur. We just put two new signs last year this side of the Tesoro plant, and about three miles outside of Kenai we put a new sign.”

Though the number will change after Fish and Game releases an update for February, the 48 moose kills recorded so far have been behind the historic average, according to Netschert. While the low snowfall might be credited for not forcing moose out of the woods Netschert thinks the peninsula’s moose population needs a boost.

“I’m hoping possibly like the Caribou Hills Fire produced a lot of habit, that’s pretty good hunting these days. Where the Funny River Fire was, hopefully that produces good habitat in the near future as it grows. And of course, 15 A, Mystery Creek needs a burn,” Netschert said. “All-in-all, you need burns every six-, eight-, 10-years to keep the habitat up for these animals. They can’t eat 20-foot-tall trees and things. They need the sub-brush and the smaller trees and things to eat and prune. So that’s kind of our problem.”

Netschert says Safari Club International pays for the signs at about $2,000 each. Along those lines, the club is having its annual fundraiser on May 5th in the Soldotna Sports Center. Tickets aren’t available yet, but when they are, it’ll be on the club’s website, Kenai S-C-I dot org. And next week, the local chapter is holding its general membership meeting and board elections on Tuesday in the Kenai Catering building on Willow Street.