Iditarod Sled-Dog Musher Kills Alaska Moose in Self-Defense

Dallas Seavey, a five-time Iditarod champion, was forced to shoot a moose with his handgun after the massive animal became tangled with his dogs. (March 14 Update: Seavey wins the race, making him the only six-time Iditarod champion!)

Iditarod Sled-Dog Musher Kills Alaska Moose in Self-Defense

The 52nd Iditarod started on March 3, 2024 in Willow, Alaska, which is about 70 miles north of Anchorage. Moose are one of the many dangers encountered by mushers and their dogs during the 1,000-mile race. Wolves are the primary predator of moose, and because a sled-dog team will look similar to a pack of wolves, moose will turn and fight if they don’t think they can run away.

Dallas Seavey (37; above right) is a veteran Iditarod competitor; he’s been the champion five times, and the 2024 race is his 14th Iditarod. At 1:43 a.m. on March 4 (yes, they race around the clock), Seavey and his team encountered a moose on the trail, 97 miles into the race. The moose didn’t run away, and after it became  tangled with his dogs, Seavey was forced to kill it with a handgun. One of Seavey’s sled dogs was injured during the encounter; it is in critical condition after undergoing emergency surgery.

Interestingly, per race rules, a musher is required to immediately field dress a moose if he or she is forced to kill it. “It fell on my sled, it was sprawled on the trail,” Seavey said. “I gutted it the best I could, but it was ugly.”

Of course, there’s no way a single person can move a whole dead moose, and while Seavey did his best to clear the trail, mushers who arrived on the scene later had to deal with the unique obstacle. One musher hit the moose carcass with her sled, tipping it over, and other mushers reported trouble at the kill site because their sled dogs wanted to feed on the moose guts.

Iditarod Race Marshal Warren Palfrey reported the moose incident to the Alaska State Troopers. “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,” Palfrey said.

Race rules state that meat from any big game animal killed on the trail out of self defense must be donated. Also, mushers who arrive on the scene later must help with the field dressing efforts if needed, and they can’t continue beyond the kill site until the musher who shot an animal has departed.

Check out the 1.5-minute Alaska’s News Source YouTube video at the bottom of this page to hear from Seavey as he talks about the incident.

March 7 Update: A three-person panel from the Iditarod reviewed the Dallas Seavey/moose incident from March 4 and determined that he will receive a 2-hour time penalty because "the animal was not sufficiently gutted by the musher." The panel concluded that "approximately 10 minutes was spent at the site of the encounter." Click here for more details regarding Seavey's rule infraction and the Iditarod Trail Committee's findings. Finally, it was reported on Seavey's Facebook page that his injured sled dog, which required emergency surgery due to the moose encounter, was cleared to go home.

March 13 Update: The 2024 Iditarod Champion is Dallas Seavey (photo above), making him the only person to win six Iditarods! He crossed the finish line at 5:16 p.m. AKST with 10 dogs in harness. Congrats to Seavey on overcoming many challenges along the way . . . including a moose!


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