Wild Alaska

Months before our move to Alaska our friends and family repeatedly discussed the dangers of moose and bear roaming our property.  We have now lived in Alaska five months and if I go a week without spotting a moose I have moose withdrawals.  I’ve grown to love the wild side of Alaska and respect its dangers.

My first moose sighting took place a week after we arrived.  A young moose slowly sauntered through the backyard of my temporary office. Being a few feet away from this magnificent animal took my breath away.  Locals warned us to keep our distance.  Moose may be beautiful, but they can be deadly, especially mothers protecting their young.  Our neighbors told tales of frequent moose sightings in our neighborhood so we expected to see them wandering our yard several times a week.  A month went by before we finally had a close encounter on our property.

Just as I finished pulling dinner out of the oven my peripheral vision captured a dark shadow passing by the kitchen window.  I frantically yelled for my husband and we stood in wonder.

This beautiful young moose walked towards our front yard for a meal.  After a few minutes of munching on our foliage it disappeared down the street.  These single moose sightings couldn’t hold a candle to what came next.  Late one June evening a mother and her two calves graced our yard.

From the safety of our home we watched as she closely guarded her young.  For five glorious minutes these three slowly moved around our property.  Now we have regular visits by this trio.

Our dog Charlotte has no idea what to make of these strange beasts.  She had only seen squirrels and chipmunks in our Indiana yard.  Now she stands guard watching and waiting for the moose.

Our little sentry always alerts us to their presence, but her most boisterous bark alerted me to a more dangerous animal.

Around ten o’clock on August 1st Charlotte woke me from a deep sleep.  She was loudly growling and barking in the kitchen.  I stumbled out of the bedroom, looked out our kitchen window, and found our garbage cans in disarray.  The hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I knew only one animal could be responsible.  I ran to each window in the house but did not see any wildlife.  A few minutes later my neighbor texted me that a mother bear and her cubs were a hundred yards from my front door.  After an unsuccessful attempt to pillage my garbage the bears headed next door.

My neighbor, Bruce, took these pictures of the guilty foraging party.

While I did not see the bears, I am always keeping a close eye of my surroundings.

Animal encounters are frequent and I hope to never get used to the thrill of such sightings.  Friends say that winter will bring out caribou and lynx along our stretch of road. Until then I keep my camera ready to capture wild Alaska.

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