Pictures of this ailing moose have been circulating online recently, and the mystery of what caused it to look like this has not only caused speculation among casual observers, but wildlife biologists as well. From first glance, the moose looked like it had been badly burned at some time in the past, resulting in patches of lost fur and what appear to be lesions. However, the woman who photographed the moose, Alaska resident Patricia Grenier, says she believes it was actually the scars of a brutal bear attack.

“That moose had been attacked by a bear by a neighbor’s house,” Grenier told the Alaska Dispatch News. “(It) was gone and everybody thought it had died, but then it was back and it was in my neighbor’s yard.”

She had originally taken the photos near Glen Alps last year, but the pictures showed up again last month on social media and Reddit. Sure enough, the description that came along with the photos also cited the bear attack—but not all were convinced.

“What the hell did the bear do? Light the moose on fire?” wrote on incredulous user on the Reddit thread.

If it was a bear, than the moose could count itself very lucky to have survived. The extent of its injuries and missing fur would indicate that the wounds must have been massive.

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Wildlife officials are also skeptical of the bear attack story, and suspect that winter ticks might be responsible for the hair loss instead. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is aware of this particular moose and even attempted to capture it several months back. Unfortunately for the moose, game wardens had planned to euthanize it when it was found. They never did find the “zombie” moose, but officials are still concerned that the same ticks that have been plaguing moose in other states finally arrived in Alaska.

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Ticks may be small, but they can result in very harmful health effects. Heavy infestations can result in hair loss, behavioral changes, and even massive blood loss. Recently, states like Idaho have reported sightings of so-called “ghost moose,” or moose so infected with ticks that they appear white, hairless, and gaunt.

“Infested moose can have tens of thousands of ticks,” the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (DFG) said in a press release. “One dead moose was documented to have over 100,000 ticks. Pity the biologist who had to do that necropsy and count them!”

Thankfully for Alaska’s moose, the ticks thrive more in warmer climates or especially mild winters.

“This particular tick will not attach to a human. However, a moose infested with them can become so agitated that the moose becomes aggressive toward people and poses a potential danger,” the Idaho DFG stated. “If you see a ‘ghost moose’, stay away. The stressed and irritated moose may become aggressive and could cause severe injury or death to a person.”

Grenier says she has not seen the moose since she took the photos and it is not known whether it still survives.



Images from Reddit

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4 thoughts on “Photos: What Happened to This Zombie-like Moose?

  1. There seems to be no lack of experts with theories who discount those who live there and what they have witnessed . Hey , I can make up a theory from thousands of miles away too . The moose was grazing ,with his head down and was struck by a bolt of lightning that exited his body near his left ear . It fits the wounds shown , and is no less a tenable theory than ticks never before seen in Alaska . Or maybe an exterrestial on his way to Area 51 was doing a little moose hunting ????? Rod Serling , you are up next !

  2. In Texas, ranging cattle often get hit by lightning. Could be a good explanation of this. Also, this year while bow hunting (Minnesota) in late December, I saw a doe with two buck fawns. One of the buck fawns had obviously been attacked by a predator. Probably a mountain lion as it had about ten gashes across its back and shoulders. The gashes were pretty fresh, still bleeding a bit, but scabbing over. The hair all around the wounds was gone and the hide had the same appearance as this moose, very dark, almost a muddy black, probably a pigment reaction so the animal doesn’t stand out. I think this moose was also attacked by a predator. Incredible as it seems, they are incredibly tough….

    The tick nonsense was speculated about the near decimation of the Minnesota Moose, but it turned out to be wolves. We used to have the largest population in the lower 48, now next to nothing and there will likely never be moose hunting in Minnesota again.

  3. It was ticks. I’ve seen the same sort hair loss and lesions in moose in Alberta and Saskatchewan over the past 5-6 years. It is the result of shorter and milder winters that is allowing the ticks to avoid the traditional die-off that allowed the animals some relief during the snowy season.
    Unfortunately, as weather patterns have changed, the big winner has been these blood-sucking parasites. The loser has been our North American moose population. I’ve seen moose so heavily infested that it would turn your stomach. It drives the poor animals mad and they will desperately rub against rough surfaces such as a gnarly old spruce in an attempt to rid themselves of the ticks. Animals will continue to rub compulsively until they’ve removed all the fur from the affected regions. Leaving them susceptible to frostbite when the first cold snap hits. Damaged skin can easily develop into burn like wounds or lesions. Rarely does an affected animal survive the winter between the blood loss, potential hypothermia and frostbite. They’re simply too weakened. Those that beat the odds look like the moose in the photo. It would be a kindness to put it down. The one such moose I encountered a couple of years ago and successfully reported to a local conservation officer was located the next day and humanely destroyed. Just one more reason I hate friggin’ ticks!

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