Back in mid-September, I interviewed the head of the Kroschel Wildlife Center near Haines, Alaska, as he was trying to locate and lure back a docile moose raised in captivity.

Star attraction Duck Moses found a way to escape from the public education facility and disappeared into a swamp where hunters, grizzly bears and wolves roamed. An official with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game allowed director Steve Kroschel 48 hours to find Duck Moses. After the deadline passed with no sign of the escapee, Kroschel shuddered each time he heard gunshots.

On Dec. 23, all on his own, the loose moose returned to the estate where he can be again the star attraction. 

Moose are common all over the state of Alaska, as well as in the wild country in and out of northern Colorado where I wrote stories as a contributing writer to Denver Magazine. 

Although the Colorado moose population once was wiped out, an effort to restock the species with a herd from Utah back around 1978 proved successful. 

Whenever I went fishing in the North Park Valley area near Walden, Colorado, I spotted multiple moose each day, particularly where an infestation of mountain pine beetles denuded forests and increased animal visibility.

I’m sure I’d love seeing Duck Moose when my wife and I vacation in Haines some weekend. But while Gosia professes not to be afraid of moose, my near-miss with a female and her calf on Alaska’s Parks Highway, plus several close encounters while hiking (three times in Anchorage alone) make me wary (OK, scared stiff) of these beautiful, massive beasts.

Last summer, when our friend Nancy Carlson visited Fairbanks from Muncie, we chanced to delight her by spotting two moose cows feeding off the highway to Chena Hot Springs.

My closest encounter occurred in 2001 when-teenage son Adam and I rented a remote state cabin at Fielding Lake, Alaska. Because it was June in the Interior, we enjoyed daylight close to 24 hours. 

Fearing him charging, I sprinted to the outhouse, cracking open the door every few minutes until he decided to feed elsewhere.

“Moose,” I shouted upon return to the cabin, waking Adam up.

He sprung from his sleeping bag. “What, where?”

“There was a moose outside the outhouse,” I gasped.

He spoke with the arrogance of a teenager.

“Well, Dad, after all, it is Alaska.”

“Stow it,” I said laughing. “I’m afraid of a moose, but you’re afraid of an itty-bitty mouse.”


Gosia Nuwer and Hank Nuwer