Alaska’s shortest days draw the highest number of moose-vehicle collisions. This time of year, the danger is heightened by snow, as moose move down toward the roads where it’s not as hard to walk or forage for food.
Ted Spraker is president of the local chapter of Safari Club International. Every two weeks, his organization updates the 12 signs along Kenai Peninsula highways that say how many moose have been killed. They’ve been updating those signs since 1992.
“So people can understand how many moose are being killed and the fact that it’s increasing in December, January, February — always the worst months,” Spraker said.
He said from Jan. 6 through Jan. 20, the Kenai Peninsula saw 21 moose killed. There have been a reported 145 moose killed in collisions and salvaged since July 2022, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
Spraker said that’s pretty standard this time of year. A recent study from the Environmental Research Letters journal found moose across North America are pushed into roadway areas when snowpack deepens each winter, ramping up the probability of moose-vehicle crashes. Those collisions were concentrated during darker months, when a lack of light impaired driving.
Spraker expects the number of collisions to start dropping soon, as it becomes lighter around commuting time.
“Hopefully we’re reaching a peak,” Spraker said. “And maybe with the longer daylight, the roadkill numbers will go down.”
He said it’s important for drivers to make sure their windshields are clear and headlights are working properly before heading out on the road in winter. He said awareness is paramount this time of year — particularly around driveways.
“These moose, right now, are seeking the path of least resistance,” he said. “So when you’re driving down the highway and passing driveways, that’s usually a place where a moose can dart out on the road.”
On the whole, the rate of moose-versus-vehicle collisions for the last year is on par with recent historical averages, according to the Alaska State Troopers.
In all of 2022, the Kenai Peninsula saw a reported 265 moose-vehicle collisions, according to troopers spokesperson Austin McDaniel. That includes moose that were hit and not killed, and is compared with 285 moose-vehicle collisions the year before, in 2021.