Woman attacked by deformed moose

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The Norwegian moose is normally rather shy, but a woman in Northern Norway had a close call with a fully grown male that was nothing short of an attack — spurred, perhaps, by a deformity that clearly plagued him.

READ MOREResidents of a nursing home in the mountain town of Ål, Buskerud County, had a surprising and frightening visit Wednesday morning from a moose that crashed its way through a window into a patient’s room. The room’s resident fortunately had left to go eat breakfast, reported Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), but suddenly a moose was on the loose inside the building. “It happened right during the time when we’re helping people get up and are serving breakfast,” department leader Tone Fossgård Berg told NRK. “Suddenly we heard a lot of noise, and screams, and see that a moose is running into another room.” Nursing home staff were able to get the resident of that room to safety and managed to shut the door, trapping the large animal inside while emergency calls were made to local police and wildlife authorities. “We were afraid the door wouldn’t hold,” said Berg. “We were really scared.” All 19 residents of the nursing home wing were evacuated until authorities arrived and decided they had to shoot the moose. No one was injured during the incident, which baffled the authorities. No one could explain why a moose would burst through a window except perhaps that it was looking for food. Staff considered themselves fortunate that the moose ran into a room and not up and down the corridors. “Then it would have been even more dramatic,” said Berg, who faced an unexpected clean-up job after the moose carcass was removed. (To see photos of the aftermath, go to NRK’s coverage – external link, in Norwegian) .

(Written January 20, 2010) Wildlife authorities in Hedmark County are resorting to scare tactics in an effort to cut the number of traffic accidents involving motorists and moose. Fully 225 moose and deer have been run down on Hedmark roads just since December 1, report local police, and the authorities are frustrated that motorists aren’t slowing down when they drive into zones clearly marked as areas where wildlife is known to cross the road. Maybe motorists will drive more carefully if they see all the blood on the road after a collision, reasoned the authorities, so they’ve decided to refrain from thorough clean-ups after an accident. News bureau NTB reported that the authorities in Hedmark’s Sør-Odal township, where most of the collisions are occurring, are following the lead of their counterparts in Trøndelag, who poured blood from slaughtered pigs along Highway 30. Motorists immediately cut their speed at the sight of it. Collisions with moose declined dramatically.

(Written January 18, 2010) Hikers and cyclists had best be a bit wary while wandering around in the hills and forests surround Oslo these days. The annual moose hunt is underway, with authorities granting permission to hunters to shoot 234 of the huge yet gracious animals. While hunting season for smaller animals runs all autumn, the moose hunt in Oslomarka runs only from October 5 to October 30. The quota is relatively small compared to the estimated 1,600 moose hunters with an Oslo address. Many, however, head out of town for hunting, especially to Hedmark and Oppland Counties. Last year, 188 moose were shot in Oslo’s forests, compared to 7,981 in Hedmark, reports newspaper Aften .

(Written October 16, 2009) Once again, we can only heave a sigh over the poor moose in Norway. Not only is the so-called “King of the Forest” about to be shot at, as the annual hunting season starts this weekend (see below) but the moose has long been a target of rampant commercial exploitation. Souvenir shops all over the country are packed with moose paraphernalia. Tourists often take down and actually steal the moose warning signs posted along Norwegian highways. The moose, of course, doesn’t benefit from any of this at all.

Now, various groups in Oslo are adding insult to injury. It seems they don’t even want to consider using a moose as the mascot for the Nordic Skiing World Championships, to be held in Oslo in 2011. They’re, well, slaughtering the very idea. They don’t want trolls either.

“A mascot should look modern and in touch with the times,” Oslo’s tourist boss, Tor Sannerud, told newspaper Aften . Especially, he thinks, since Oslo wants “to present itself as an architecture and design symbol.” What may have been cute in earlier years is simply not cool now.

The officials in charge of arranging the World Championships still haven’t settled on a mascot. Various forces are lobbying hard for a “modern and creative” mascot, and information chief Nina Horn Hynne said the mascot chosen likely will be of “a design that’s future-oriented.”

One travel industry official claimed they meant no offense to the moose, but the moose mascot from 1982 now seems “a big aged” and she wants to see “a fresh and modern profile.” It’s so important, claims the industry, that the state should throw in some extra funding to ensure a cool design.

A decision needs to be made this fall. Stay tuned.

(Written September 24, 2009)

It’s been fairly quiet for awhile on the moose news front in Norway, but soon the forests will be anything but. Hunting season gets underway on Friday and more than 50,000 rifle-toting enthusiasts are expected to start spreading out in the woods all over the country. All told, reports newspaper Aftenposten , they’ll probably collect around 8,000 tons of moose meat (called elgkjøtt in Norway) but the per-kilo price is likely to be higher than ever before. Landowners who allow hunting on their property are demanding high fees that can add up to as much as NOK 30,000 (about USD 5,000) for a large moose ox. Some packages advertised in local papers recently offer three days of hunting for three hunters for NOK 45,000. If each hunter shoots and kills a large moose, the price can double. The package includes lodging, food and guides with dogs, however. All told the sport can easily cost NOK 1,000 an hour, but landowners selling hunting rights say they don’t have problems finding takers. One landowner in Aurskog, northeast of Oslo, said that a wealthy hunter from Hungary bought a package “that I won’t even tell you the price of, but he clearly had enough money. He also had room on his wall for a moose trophy after years of hunting all over the world.” Nearly 36,000 moose were killed in last year’s moose hunt. Authorities encourage the hunt, to reduce the large moose population in Norway.

(Written September 22, 2009)

A family’s car collided with a moose outside Bjorli in Oppland County Wednesday, and the impact of the crash flung the moose over the car and right into the camping trailer they were pulling. Others arriving at the scene found the moose with its head hanging out the smashed window of the trailer, which was severely damaged. “It was absolutely indescribable,” witness Steinar Helvik told newspaper VG. He was on his way to a fishing holiday with his own family when they came upon the accident scene. Police arriving shortly afterwards shot the moose to relieve its suffering. There were six persons in the car pulling the trailer, four adults and two children. Five of them escaped with minor injuries, but a 12-year-old boy suffered more serious injuries.

(Written July 16, 2009)

An island off the coast of Fredrikstad that’s used for military exercises had a serious problem with ticks earlier this decade. Then a tick expert proposed hunting down all the moose on the island, and 18 were shot in 2003. Today there’s nary a tick to be found on the island of Rauøy, reports newspaper VG, and researcher Reidar Mehl says they disappeared with the moose. Local protests arose over the slaughtering of the moose, which first appeared on the island in the 1980s after either swimming or walking over the ice in winter. Some felt it was an extreme method of getting rid of ticks. Mehl simply says it worked, calling it a “quick and effective” way to eradicate ticks as well, since they thrived on the moose and can cause the dreaded borrelia infection in humans. The World Wide Fund for Nature WWF told VG it had no problem with the moose eradication. “In order to address the tick problem, we need to have a lower moose, deer and elk population,” said Christian Pedersen of WWF. He noted there’s now an “extremely high” number of moose in Norway. Mehl also noted that the eradication had minimal effect on other flora and fauna on the island.

(Written July 16, 2009)

Steinar Holst Nilsen was out walking his dog near the airport at Brønnøysund in northern Norway last week when an ill-tempered moose went on the attack. Nilsen says he didn’t have a chance at running away, so there was only one thing to do: Climb the nearest tree. Quickly.

“The moose was charging towards me,” Holst Nilsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). When asked what he would have done if there wasn’t a tree nearby, he said he would have tried lying down and counting to 100. “But I doubt that would have helped,” he said.

Holst Nilsen works at the airport and knows the area well. He first encountered the moose, which had a newborn calf, the day before but both mother and calf were calm and slipped away through a fence.

When he met them again, the mother moose was anything but calm. Moose are known for vigorously defending their offspring if they feel threatened, and this one apparently was.

Holst Nilsen’s dog couldn’t climb the tree, and was repeated charged by the moose. The dog stayed on the ground under the tree. After a while, a jogger ran into the scene and discovered Holst Nilsen in the tree, the dog on the ground, the moose and her calf. The jogger, a pilot for Widerøe Airlines, soon ended up in the tree as well.

There they sat, Holst Nilsen and Captain Øystein Strømme, while the moose stamped her feet and snorted. She wasn’t about to let them come down. They tried to warn others passing by in the popular recreation area.

After about an hour, Holst Nilsen finally called for help on his mobile phone. Both the moose and the calf were shot, which set off protests from several readers of NRK’s web site and a local animal rights group.

The group, called NOAH, harshly criticized wildlife authorities for allowing the moose and calf to be destroyed. “This wasn’t aggression, but behaviour that’s absolutely necessary for animals to raise their offspring,” said Jenny Rolness of NOAH. “That should demand understanding and respect, not the reaction displayed here.”

(Written June 30, 2009)

The poor moose. They have a tough time finding enough food, face being hunted every autumn. and now comes word that those in the counties of Vest-Agder and Aust-Agder have poorer health than moose in other parts of Norway.

The Agder moose also have a higher mortality rate than moose elsewhere, reports Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). Researchers aren’t sure why, but nearly half of a group being electronically tailed have died prematurely.

“It can be a matter of the topography in southern Norway, and the fight for food,” veterinarian Line Mørch in Tvedestrand told NRK Sørlandet .

Mørch recently performed an autopsy on yet another dead moose (called elg in Norwegian, and not to be confused with the elk) found at Vegårshei, in the hills above the southern coast. Township officials have followed 25 moose marked with radio senders over the past three years, and 12 of them have died during the period.

Mørch is surprised over the high mortality rate of nearly 50 percent, which elsewhere in Norway is set at about 5 percent.

The moose population has increased rapidly in recent years, meaning that they compete for food. Heavy snowfall during the past winter made the fight for food even tougher, and some researchers think the moose either starved to death or became too weak and thus vulnerable to other ailments.

(Written June 22, 2009) It’s spring, and that means many moose mothers are busy sending last year’s calves off on their own, while they prepare to give birth to this year’s offspring.

This particular mother made an unlikely choice of grazing area: A residential neighborhood in the far northern city of Harstad.

A local doctor snapped this photo — and is sharing it with “Views and News” readers — from her car, at a distance of just three meters. Neither mom nor junior seemed disturbed in the least.

It was one of those rare close encounters, and “only in Norway” sort of experiences.

(Written May 11, 2009)

Norway’s moose is fondly referred to as the “King of the Forest” (Skogens konge), but new research suggests the huge, majestic creatures may be damaging the very areas that feed them.

Experts claim there are now far too many moose in Norwegian forests, and they’re destroying the biological diversity of local flora and fauna. “There’s become so many moose that in many places, they’ve eaten up too much of the vegetation,” Olav Hjeljord of the state university in Ås told newspaper Aftenposten. He noted that several varieties of trees that once were abundant can scarcely be found or are stunted, such as rognebær bushes.

When the vegetation disappears, so do insects that live around them and therefore also the birds lose a source of food, Hjeljord noted.

He’s urging conservation officials to increase hunting quotas, to pare down the moose population. It’s estimated that the moose population in Norway amounted to around 120,000 this year, up from less than 10,000 in the 1930s.