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Sled Dogs, Muskox Clash Again

"Muskox family." Photo: Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, taken July 16, 2012.

In yet another clash between canine and ungulate, two dogs were injured last weekend by a muskox near a biking trail in Nome.

The dogs, which belong to musher Kirsten Bey, were flown to Anchorage for veterinary care and are now recovering. This latest incident comes after a series of muskox attacks throughout the summer and fall.

In late July, a dog belonging to Mitch Erickson was killed by a muskox in Icy View. Earlier that month, Nome resident Diana Adams was cited for taking a muskox out of season when it charged one of her dogs on the same lot.

A third dog was gored in an attack by a muskox on Anvil Mountain in early August. And a dog owner shot and killed a muskox near Wales later that month.

Adams’ citation was eventually changed to a warning, though dog owners in Nome remained frustrated with the “nuisance muskox” problem – causing wildlife managers to open the subsistence hunt for muskox several months early.

In August, a bull muskox was taken as part of that subsistence hunt – and this weekend’s attack marks the first violent incident involving a muskox in Nome since August.

The early subsistence hunt came after a number of attempts by wildlife managers to drive the muskox outside city limits. Those attempts ranged from deterrents like predator decoys and bear urine, to rubber bullets and foot patrols herding the muskox away from populated areas — all to relatively little avail.

A herd of muskox could be seen last week milling around the Nome Municipal Landfill.

By contrast, the 2015-2016 Tier II muskox hunt is now open for applications. Hunters in units 22B, 22C, 22D and 23 Southwest can submit an application online by December 15th, or send mail postmarked by November 30th.