Have you seen this moose? Duck Moses


The escape of a wildlife center yearling male moose has resulted in tense correspondence between its director and Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Here is what has occurred.

A docile moose named Duck Moses that escaped from Kroschel Wildlife Center on Mosquito Lake last week has failed to return to the estate as of Friday, according to its director, Steve Kroschel.

Also on Friday, hunting season opened in the area, and therefore Duck Moses now qualifies as state property eligible for harvesting. Duck Moses ceased to be a member of the wildlife center the moment he left the grounds. The bull moose leaped out a window in a compound often visited by the public. That area was under a construction order issued by permitting biologist Stephanie Boyle to be completed by Oct. 1, 2023. The construction consisted of additional electric fencing in a section of the estate known as the Wild North Yard. Kroschel maintains that an “electrician had cut the back corner of this compound open in connecting more electric wires, which precipitated this cascade of bizarre chain of events to begin with.”

With armed hunters in the area, Ryan Scott with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game out of caution ordered Kroschel’s search for Duck Moses to end Thursday at 11:59 p.m. after a 48-hour grace period. Scott wrote Kroschel that he was guided by 5 AAC 92.029 where 48 hours is provided persons to recapture escaped animals without a permit.

Although Korschel searched nearby swampland in heavy rains and after dark, he failed to sight the missing moose.

The Kroschel Wildlife Center differs from the Anchorage Zoo in that Kroschel and staff personally supervise the animals which include docile wolverines, a snowy owl, moose, wolves, grizzlies, on and on. Many are now aging. The facility requires ADF&G permitting because the animals are state resources. Visitors come for the presentations, and tour operators routinely bring clients to the grounds. The animals also regularly are visited for care by veterinarians.

The moose’s escape, according to correspondence shared with the News-Miner by Kroschel, has drawn the full attention of ADFG Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang and ADFG policy adviser Dani Evanson. Kroschel wrote them on Sept. 14 to opine that he had the impression from Lang and Evanson that he runs an unsupervised park and may not have his animals’ welfare in mind. “If you STILL feel that I am negligent in this matter, then this is the final and fatal kill shot to the Kroschel Films Wildlife Center,“ Kroschel wrote.

Kroschel’s letters to Lang and Evanson may indicate either frustration or defiance. “To function with your Agency without a single incident, is impossible,” Kroschel wrote on Sept. 14. “Every damn facility in this state … have had very serious mishaps, far, FAR worse than this. Even your Kenali Research Center with grizzlies getting into your moose pastures. Even your Palmer Moose Research facility with moose dying getting caught in tangled wires.”

Kroschel went on to say that the moose escape occurred while he was away from the area, and Duck Moses was under the supervision of an unnamed staff member.

“And that person is so devastated that they literally feel they no longer have anything to live for because of the consequences right now. And I cannot underscore that previous sentence enough,” Kroschel wrote.

In a Sept. 13 letter to Lang, Kroschel demanded to know what would happen to his aging animals if the state of Alaska no longer would issue him a permit as it always had in the past. “What would you do with the 15 year old grizzly bear that I care for,” he wrote. “Euthanize it? What about the aged wolverines?”

Previously on Sept. 13, Kroschel heard from Evanson and Lang. “While we can understand and even sympathize with some of these hardships these policies pose, we cannot and will not compromise on the welfare of wildlife and public safety,” Evanson wrote Kroschel. Lang echoed her words in his letter and criticized the facility for the escape, saying that escape was evidence of an “inadequate” moose enclosure.

Thus, the situation remains in limbo and unresolved. No outcome is certain. Duck Moses might return to the compound on its own, attracted by the sound of Kroschel’s calling or because it missed companionship and food. It could remain at large indefinitely. It now is literally “fair game” and could end up legally killed and deposited for food in a hunter’s freezer. Romantically, will it find a mate?

The bigger unknown question to be answered is whether or not the facility will be judged worthy of permitting after ADF&G inspection on Oct. 1. If the wildlife center does shut down, what will the state do with aging animals not capable of surviving release into the wild?

“Sadly, Duck Moses is still gone,” Kroschel wrote in an email to the News-Miner late Friday night. “The shocks from the [electric] fence were like a slap in the face, and he likely has found other things to do in the vast swamp across from the park including fresh browse and relaxation. I have to tell myself he won’t encounter a hungry grizzly or a hungry hunter. I’ll never forget this week … Ever.”

In the meantime, Kroschel said he keeps his end of the bargain with the ADFG and never ventures off his property to seek the moose. Absent a permit necessary to conduct capture, he stands on his porch and hollers, hoping the ears of Duck Moses will catch the sound of his voice as it “resonates down the valley.”