ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A veteran musher had to kill a moose after it injured his dog shortly after the start of this year’s Iditarod, race officials said Monday.

Dallas Seavey informed the officials with the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race early Monday morning that he was forced to shoot the moose with a handgun in self-defense.

This came “after the moose became entangled with the dogs and the musher,” a statement from the race said.

Seavey, who is tied for the most Iditarod wins ever at five, said he urged officials to get the moose off the trail.

“It fell on my sled, it was sprawled on the trail,” Seavey told an Iditarod Insider television crew. “I gutted it the best I could, but it was ugly.”

Seavey, who turned 37 years old on Monday, is not the first musher to have to kill a moose during an Iditarod. In 1985, the late Susan Butcher was leading the race when she used her axe and a parka to fend off a moose, but it killed two of her dogs and injured 13 others. Another musher came along and killed the moose.

Butcher had to quit that race but went on to win four Iditarods. She died from leukemia in 2006 at the age of 51.

This year’s race started Sunday afternoon in Willow, about 75 miles (121 kilometers) north of Anchorage. Seavey encountered the moose just before 2 a.m. Monday, 14 miles (22 kilometers) outside the race checkpoint in Skwentna, en route to the next checkpoint 50 miles (80 kilometers) away in Finger Lake.

Seavey arrived in Finger Lake later Monday, where he dropped a dog that was injured in the moose encounter. The dog was flown to Anchorage, where it was being evaluated by a veterinarian.

Alaska State Troopers were informed of the dead moose, and race officials said every effort was being made to salvage the meat.

Race rules state that if a big game animal like a moose, caribou or buffalo is killed in defense of life or property, the musher must gut the animal and report it to race officials at the next checkpoint. Mushers who follow must help gut the animal when possible, the rules states.

New race marshal Warren Palfrey said he would continue to gather information about the encounter as it pertains to the rules, according to the Iditarod statement.

Musher Paige Drobny confirmed to race officials the moose was dead and in the middle of the trail when she arrived in Finger Lake on Monday.

“Yeah, like my team went up and over it, like it’s that ‘in the middle of the trail,’” she said.

Seavey wasn’t the first musher to encounter a moose along that stretch of the race.

Race leader Jessie Holmes, who is a cast member of the National Geographic reality TV show about life in rural Alaska called “Life Below Zero,” had his encounter between those two checkpoints, but it’s not clear if it was the same moose.

“I had to punch a moose in the nose out there,” he told a camera crew, but didn’t offer other details.

The 1,000-mile (1,609-kilometer) race across Alaska will end sometime next week when the winning musher comes off the Bering Sea ice and crosses under the burled arch finish line in Nome.


This story has been corrected to show that the checkpoint is located in Skwentna.