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Alaskan Suicide Moose Can’t Stop Goring Themselves on Fences

Decorative fences in Anchorage are a death trap for the majestic mammal. This week, the city might finally get around to banning them

Decorative fences are becoming a common death trap for the freewheeling moose who wander the streets of Anchorage, Alaska. In the last few years, the Gothic-style posts with iron-spiked tips have skewered at least five cows and calves that have tried to jump over them in the state’s largest city. With speared abdomens and snagged hind legs, the moose often die a slow and painful death, which area wildlife experts have captured in a series of unsettling photographs.

“It’s pretty gruesome and horrible for all parties involved,” says Jessy Coltrane, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. She knows firsthand. Several years ago, Coltrane had to shoot a pair of moose calves that impaled themselves outside the the city’s Atwood mansion on the same day. The historic property eventually covered up the spikes on its fence to spare the lives of other moose that were dying to set hooves on the grounds.

While palisade fences, as they’re commonly known, are an infrequent sight throughout Anchorage compared with the rest of the U.S., the perennial moose eviscerations have finally prompted city officials to eliminate them completely.


The Anchorage Assembly will introduce a measure this week that would regulate palisade fences with spiked, pointed tips, the Alaska Dispatch News reports. The proposal, submitted by Assemblywoman Jennifer Johnston, aims to banish all spiked fences shorter than 9 feet. An exception would be made, however, for fences where the tips are removed or the spikes capped.

Some have spent years calling for the measure. “In moose country, fences—particularly ones bristling with spear tips—do not make good neighbors,” Rick Sinnott, a former wildlife biologist, wrote in 2012.

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