Avalanches in Southcentral Alaska’s remote wilderness can be unpredictable, and are a danger to humans and wildlife alike. According to the Alaska Dispatch, three snowmobilers were riding through Hatcher Pass in the Talkeetna Mountains on December 28 when they found something unusual poking out of the snow. It was a moose snout, and it belonged to a young cow that had been buried by a sudden avalanche.
“There was just enough of its snout sticking above the snow that it could breathe,” said Marty Mobley, one of the three men who helped rescue the moose from its snowy prison.
Along with friends Rob Uphus and Avery Vucinich, Mobley had seen moose tracks earlier when they rode past the area an hour earlier, along with some ski marks. By the time they returned, they found everything buried under a layer of thick snow. Worried that the skier had been swallowed up by the avalanche, the men decided to conduct a quick search of the area. Mobley said they mistook the moose’s snout to be an arm at first, and feared that they actually did find the skier after all.
Instead, it turned out to be a young female moose. According to the Associated Press, the three men grabbed shovels from their vehicles and dug the animal out after just 10 minutes. During this time they said the moose was docile and appeared to appreciate their efforts. After removing the snow from about 75 percent of the animal, one of the men poked the moose with a shovel and it was able to jump out of the hole they made for it.
“”It stood right up and towered over us, because we were in kind of a hole from the digging,” Mobley told the Dispatch. “It looked like the abominable snowman because its fur was so packed with snow and it looked at us, shook the snow off it, and off it went.”
The snowmobilers guessed that the moose had probably triggered the avalanche itself, and slid more than a thousand feet down the mountain before they found it. Although it was dangerous work, Mobley said that he and his friends were more than happy to rescue the moose. It did not seem to be injured and was able to leave under its own power.