Anchorage wildlife biologists are trying to get a handle on the city’s moose population and for the first time, are reaching out to the public for help.

While aerial surveys are typically the best method for assessing moose populations across North America, doing such within a city such as Anchorage comes with a number of challenges.  In addition to flight restrictions over the city, low snow accumulation in the area would make such a survey wildly inaccurate.

By utilizing specialized darts designed to lightly strike moose, collect a sample and fall to the ground, biologists will gather fallen darts and hopefully retrieve the vital DNA sample used to identify individual moose.

“We’ll be collecting DNA from Anchorage moose and using it to identify parents, offspring, and siblings,” said Research Biologist Sean Farley. “Taken together, that information may allow us to estimate the size of Anchorage’s moose population.”

In an effort to successfully located moose within the Anchorage Bowl, Alaska’s Department of Fish and Game is tapping residents, urging them to report any and all sightings within the metropolitan area.  As reports come in, research and management staff will make a concerted effort to locate the animal and collect DNA samples where possible.

“This is just the first test of new technology that, if successful, could improve our management of Anchorage area moose populations,” said Area Wildlife Biologist Dave Battle.

Officials are reminding residents, that while they are asking for help, they do recommend citizens not approach animals and ask that the public gives biologists and researchers the space they need to collect vital samples.

The project is funded entirely by federal Pittman-Robertson funds matched to state Fish and Game funds generated from hunting and fishing license fees.