dallas seavey kills moose iditarod 2024
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Iditarod Champion Shoots Moose to Protect Dogs, Guts It—and Keeps Racing

Dallas Seavey dispatched the moose after it became entangled in his dog team 100 miles into the race.

Successful Alaskan dog mushers need to be jacks of all trades: dedicated dog handlers, phenomenal sled drivers, and experienced backcountry travelers. They also need to be patient, hard-working, and tough. Being able to take down angry, full-grown moose also helps—as five-time Iditarod champion Dallas Seavey demonstrated shortly after this year's race began.

Seavey's team was about 100 miles into the race, 14 miles past the Skwenta checkpoint and on their way to Finger Lake, when a moose "became entangled with the dogs and the musher on the trail", according to a statement from the Iditarod. The trail between Skwenta and Finger Lake winds through wooded hills, swamps, and meadows— prime moose territory. And with an especially rough, snowy winter, Alaskan moose have already proven to be stressed out and aggressive this year.

With one dog already injured in the moose encounter and the safety of the rest of his dogs in mind, Seavey decided to dispatch the moose.

Iditarod Insider interviewed Seavey as he checked into Finger Lake, appearing calm and collected despite the moose fiasco. Seavey told race officials that he sent an InReach message that a dead moose needed to be moved off the trail. The moose was on a downhill section and had fallen on Seavey's sled when he killed it. "I gutted it the best I could, but it was ugly. You wouldn't want a picture of it in your hunting collection," Seavey told Insider.

At Finger Lake, Seavey got to work taking care of his dogs and flew the injured dog, Faloo, back to Anchorage for medical attention.

According to Seavey's Facebook, Faloo arrived at an Anchorage vet clinic in critical condition. She went into surgery soon after arriving and, as of last night, was out of surgery but remains in critical condition.

Seavey was not the first Iditarod musher to encounter the moose. Jessie Holmes, the first to reach the Finger Lake checkpoint, reported to Iditarod Insider that he had encountered rough miles of trail and "had to punch a moose in the nose" after it got too close to him and his team.

Paige Drobny, third into Finger Lake, also reported a dead moose on the trail, presumably after Seavey had dispatched it. "It's dead in the middle of the trail," Drobny told the Insider. "Like my team went up and over it."

Musher Gabe Dunham encountered the same, telling Insider, "There happened to be a dead moose in the trail that kind of flipped the sled," she told the Insider. "I did laugh and think, 'Man, even when they're dead, they're still getting me.'"

Bailey Vitello also ran up and over the moose, telling Insider, "Can't say I've ever run a 16-dog team over a moose, so that was kind of interesting." The moose was on a blind corner, and by the time Bailey saw the moose, his team was already half over it. He went to stop his team before realizing that the dogs would probably start eating the moose.

Iditarod race rules allow mushers to carry firearms for protection from large animals such as moose. However, they also must stop to gut any big game animal they shoot so that the meat can be salvaged. Any mushers that come upon a fellow competitor while gutting a game animal must also stop and help. The meat is then salvaged; in Alaska, nothing goes to waste. According to Race Marshall Warren Palfrey, "With help from snowmobile-aided support in the area, we are making sure that every attempt is made to utilize and salvage the moose meat. "

Seavey isn't the first Iditarod musher who's had to kill a moose during the race. In 1985, Susan Butcher was leading the race when she had to use her axe and parka to fend off a moose. It killed two of her dogs and injured 13 others before another musher came along and killed it. In February 2022, rookie Iditarod Musher Bridgett Watkins and her dog team were attacked by a moose just weeks from the start of the Iditarod. The moose charged her team and did not stop even when Watkins emptied her gun into him. The moose trampled her team for over an hour. Finally, a friend who lived nearby came with a high-powered rifle and killed the moose. Four dogs were seriously injured in the attack.

Seavey's moose attack comes just months after a snowmachiner struck a dog team from his kennel while on a training run on Denali Highway. The snowmachiner was traveling 65 mph in the opposite direction when it hit one of the dog teams, killing one dog instantly. Another dog died within an hour, and three others had severe compound fractures. The snowmachiners were apparently intoxicated.

As of this morning, Seavey is out of the Rohn checkpoint at mile 263 and in first place with his remaining 15 dogs.

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