For the Guardian: A postcard from Mooselandia

The bull moose’s rack was about the length and depth of a small shopping cart. The animal lay on a well-kept lawn along a regular city street, white clouds of breath escaping its nostrils.

Dave Battle, on-call wildlife biologist, stepped gingerly behind a nearby stand of trees, watching for signs of agitation. It’s the tail end of mating season in south-central Alaska, and you never know what kind of a day a 1,500-pound moose might have had before it ran into you, he said.

“Different moose,” he said, “have different breaking points.” You don’t want to push one over the edge.

New York City has its rats. In Portland, Oregon, it’s raccoons. Here, the Anchorage urban wildlife comes super-sized and very occasionally deadly.

Battle and an assistant work full time for the state of Alaska’s department of fish and game, keeping track of the city’s wild animals, including moose, bears, lynx and wolves. On a recent morning, as Battle cruised through a couple of neighborhoods, he came across two bull moose in an hour’s time. A pretty average count. There are maybe 1,500 roaming freely around the city.

Read the rest of the story here.

With photos by Katie Orlinsky.

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Julia O’Malley is a journalist who lives in Anchorage. She writes about culture, family, home, the environment and food in Alaska.

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