Moose causes havoc at Iditarod 2024: Mushers forced to punch, shoot and dress animal on Day 1 of dog sled race

The Iditarod isn’t referred to as the “The Last Great Race on Earth” for nothing. 

The multi-day event in Alaska consists of the top sled dogs and mushers racing across the wintery tundra. It takes the participants through rugged terrain where animals run wild out in the distance. 

Well, most of the time. Sometimes, mushers encounter behemoth mammals, including moose. 

The very first day of the event, mushers Jesse Holmes and Dallas Seavey met a moose face-to-face. First, Holmes ran into the beast as he closed in on the Finger Lakes checkpoint. He said he punched the moose in the face when it got close. 

Yes, you read that right. Holmes punched the moose right in the nose. 

MORE: Updated Iditarod results, leaderboard at 2024 race

After that, Seavey and his dogs also had a run-in with a moose, though it’s still unclear if it was the same moose who had just been punched. Either way, he did more damage than Holmes. Instead of using his fist, the five-time Iditarod winner used his gun, shooting down the threatening and belligerent animal. 

It was also reported a third musher, Wally Robinson, was forced to run over the carcass. 

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Here is the official release from the Iditarod about the incidents with the moose, Holmes, and Seavey:

Race Officials were notified at 1:43 a.m. that Veteran Musher Dallas Seavey (bib #7) was forced to dispatch a moose in self defense after the moose became entangled with the dogs and the musher on the trail. Seavey and his team were 14 miles outside of the Skwentna checkpoint on their way to the Finger Lake checkpoint.

Seavey continued on the trail, stopped to rest and feed his dogs and pulled into the Finger Lake checkpoint at 8:00 a.m. AKST. The Alaska State Troopers were immediately notified by Race Marshal Warren Palfrey. Seavey dropped one dog at the Finger Lake checkpoint who was injured during the moose encounter. The dog was immediately flown from Finger Lake to Anchorage and is currently being evaluated by veterinarians in Anchorage.

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. I will continue to gather information in this incident as it pertains to Rule 34,” says Race Marshal Warren Palfrey.

The last line from Palfrey is the best part of the whole scenario. There is a rule at the Iditarod race that is specifically put in place in the case of a situation like this one happening because it’s happened before

Rule 34 in the Iditarod rulebook states as follows:

In the event that an edible big game animal, i.e., moose, caribou, buffalo, is killed in defense of life or property, the musher must gut the animal and report the incident to a race official at the next checkpoint. Following teams must help gut the animal when possible. No teams may pass until the animal has been gutted and the musher killing the animal has proceeded. Any other animal killed in defense of life or property must be reported to a race official, but need not be gutted.

Not only did Seavey have to shoot the moose, but due to Rule 34, Seavey was also responsible for gutting the animal. He had to field dress — or remove the internal organs so the meat could be preserved — of a full-grown moose before he or any other team was allowed to pass by the scene of the incident. Whatever meat is salvaged will reportedly be dispersed to a nearby town.

Unfortunately for the five-time Iditarod champion, the gutting wasn’t good enough. He was hit with a time penalty of two hours for not properly taking care of the animal. A statement from the Iditarod said it had “been determined that the animal was not sufficiently gutted by the musher.”

In its definition by the Iditarod, gutting includes taking out the intestines and other internal organs, according to officials. 

“It fell on my sled; it was sprawled on the trail,” Seavey said. “I gutted it the best I could, but it was ugly.”

That’s the beauty of the Iditarod. 


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