A yearling bull moose named Duck Moses escaped from the Kroschel Wildlife Center near Mosquito Lake on Monday, just days before moose hunting season started.

The moose hunt opened on Sept. 15 for spike fork bulls, bulls with 50-inch antler spreads or at least three brow tines.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game said the escaped moose is legal if it meets the antler requirements. Steve Kroschel, the owner of the center, said in a Facebook message that the moose was a spike fork yearling, and therefore believed it was legal.

Area biologist Carl Koch said the Department of Fish & Game gave Kroschel until the end of the day Thursday, Sept. 14 to retrieve the moose for safety reasons.

Permitting biologist Stephanie Bogle said as of Wednesday, Sept. 20, there was no confirmed harvest of Duck Moses. But she said the animal doesn’t have any collar or other markings that distinguishes it from other moose in the area.

“We do have pictures of it and it is of a certain age, so it would be a smaller moose taken,” Bogle said. “We’re waiting to see if it does pop up.”

The moose may be more approachable or even approach people, since it was reared in captivity, a press release from Fish & Game said. But, the department cautioned the public that it remains a wild animal and could be dangerous.

Kroschel said in a Facebook message that he was out looking for the moose throughout the day on Thursday after the moose escaped. He said the moose was “likely simply enjoying some willows and just sitting out there right now chewing its cud.”

The moose was given a deworming medication called Fenbendazole in late June, but it is believed to be safe to eat now.

The Kroschel Wildlife Center is permitted with the Department of Fish & Game to raise rescued animals, including wolverines, bears and wolves.

On his public personal Facebook page Sept. 13, Kroschel posted a link to a story about the escaped moose in KINY, writing “BREAKING: What is the real story here ? Why did this occur? I could see this coming last March. Read this article carefully and ponder how a moose can go from being kissed to being eaten in less than a week.”

Koch said he couldn’t share information about the center’s permits at the moment. He said the permitting biologist, Stephanie Bogle, was in the field last week, and Bogle couldn’t be reached for comment on Tuesday. Koch said generally, places permitted to keep wild game animals are inspected once a year to review that they were meeting requirements for food and enclosures.

Koch said the escape could affect future permits.

“It’s a concern that it escaped — definitely,” he said. “There are requirements (permit holders) need to meet, and when these kinds of things happen, it gets documented.”

Kroschel has recently hinted that ADF&G has been unhappy with certain conditions at the Kroschel center.

Earlier this month, Kroschel posted on Facebook that the center “will most likely close its doors permanently due to the incrementally restrictive force in play that bleeds out the joy and freedom of method of presentation that I’ve always done my entire life.”

In an email exchange after Duck Moses escaped, forwarded to CVN by Kroschel, Fish & Game policy advisor Dani Evenson wrote to Kroschel that the enclosure “remains inadequate since you currently have an escapee.”

ADF&G commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang weighed in on the email thread with concerns about the enclosure.

“I understand acts of god, but I have no reason to see this event as an act of god. You will need to beef up your fencing if you recover the moose,” he wrote.

Kroschel disputed those allegations, saying the escape was the result of an unfortunate series of coincidences. He wrote in an earlier email the moose had likely escaped via a window that had been open for the public to view the moose. He also said an additional electric fence was being installed in the area, and construction had inadvertently disconnected the current at the time of the escape.

Bogle, the permitting biologist, said three Fish & Game staff visited the center in June. She said the inspection report noted places where electric fencing could be added, and she said Kroschel appeared to be working to improve those gaps. Bogle said the department has generally moved to add electric fencing requirements at similar facilities in recent years. She said before the moose escape, staff were already planning a follow-up visit later this year to check on progress.

Bogle said there are three other similar permitted facilities in the state of Alaska, one near Portage, one in Anchorage, and one in Palmer.

In 2021, a wild bear killed two moose at the center. Kroschel shot the bear under the state’s defense of life and property law.

Animals have previously escaped permitted wildlife facilities in the state, including a 2013 incident where a 300-pound brown bear escaped from the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center near Portage. Bogle, who has worked in her position for about four years, said she wasn’t aware of any other escapes.