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Bull moose die with antlers locked

Associated Press — Sept. 28, 2004

ANCHORAGE — The carcasses of two bull moose that died with their antlers locked in battle have been discovered near the University of Alaska Anchorage.

They were found Friday in a stand of black spruce 50 feet from the parking lot of the university's arts building, two bulls in rut among the skinny trees with their antlers fused in a fatal tangle.

The moose were on their sides and at a right angle to each other, their heads locked back to back. The face of the smaller bull was in the ground, while the other's head was wrenched around to face the sky, its tongue hanging to the side.

That's just a tragedy," said Ben Lawson, a UAA electrician, one of the scores of visitors to the site. "You'd think the horns would break."

But moose antlers are not likely to break, even when animals as large and powerful as these, estimated to be 1,000 pounds or more, try to free themselves from the mesh of antler tines and palms, said biologist Rick Sinnott of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

"They do sometimes break the tines, but these guys were locked into the palms," he added, referring to the broad, flatter part of the antler.

Sinnott guessed the bulls had killed each other a week before or earlier.

The animals probably choked to death, he said. They got turned on their sides, and their huge, compartmentalized stomachs regurgitated mash into their windpipes, Sinnott said.

Death by locked antlers does not happen often to moose, but it's also not rare, according to Sinnott.

He said he hoped to locate trappers to take the moose for bait meat. The Department of Fish and Game would want the heads to sell them at auction, he said.

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