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Two moose found frozen mid-fight in rural Alaska

Two moose were found entangled in battle and encased in ice near a remote Alaskan village. The moose are believed to have been in a fight when their antlers locked and fell in the water, which quickly froze.

Moose don't startle Alaskans. Not moose in downtown Anchorage, nor a mating battle in their front yard or eating their pumpkins on Halloween. Moose are just a part of everyday life in the northwestern state.

But Brad Webster, a middle school teacher in Unalakleet, a remote village on Alaska's western coast, took a walk two weeks ago that rattled him. Webster and a friend were out walking near a frozen slough at the Covenant Bible Camp, where Webster volunteers as a camp steward, when they saw antlers sticking up out of the ice. Webster and his friend walked out on the ice and thought it was simply one moose that was poached. After a closer look, they realized there were two moose frozen in the ice. "He and I were both kind of in shock after seeing it," Webster told Alaskan local news station KTVA.

Jeff Erickson, student activities director of the Bering Strait School District in Unalakleet, joined Webster to see the moose that were frozen in time. Erickson, who grew up in the area and has hunted for 50 years, was fascinated by what he saw. "It was such a surreal sight – so serene and quiet, but a stark vision of how brutally harsh life can be," said Erickson.

Tangled in battle

The moose were only frozen since the end of the recent mating season, which runs from late September to early October. The antlers of the two moose are suspected to have become entangled during a fight for a mate and fell in the water which quickly froze around the two moose, entrapping the two. Kris Hundertmark, chair of the biology and wildlife department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, told Alaskan daily newspaper Alaskan Dispatch News in an email the death was unfortunate for these two, but better than other potential outcomes.

"These two fellows were unfortunate in that they probably fell into the water while locked together and drowned. Then again, that is a much quicker way to go than by getting locked together in some forest and slowly starving to death," said Hundertmark.

Webster, Erickson, and a few others removed the two moose from the frozen area to use for multiple purposes. The spoiled meat will be used for dog food and trapping bait. The remaining meat that is left at the site is free for anyone who wants it, according to Webster. The still-frozen moose heads are on Webster's property and the current plan calls for them to be cleaned out, bleached and mounted at the Covenant Bible Camp.

kbd/kl (AP)      

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