NOT TO TRIFLE WITH— Two musk oxen square off at the Nome cemetery recently. The animals are in a long drawn-out rut, making long bulls dangerous adversaries not only for their own kind, but also for dogs.

Musk oxen kill sled dogs in two separate incidents

A bull musk ox attacked dogs at Kirsten Bey’s dog yard on the Nome-Teller Highway at around 5 p.m. Monday, August 19. Three dogs were killed, three were injured.
Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game area biologist Bill Dunker responded, as did NPD, and Dunker dispatched the musk ox. The meat was donated to a local charity. This is the second incident involving dogs and musk oxen this summer. On July 10, Jeff Darling called the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to report an attack on his dogs by a musk oxen. According to Peggy Darling one dog was killed outright and two dogs were injured. One was gored in the side and injured superficially, the other was slashed in the neck and required significant care to recover. As no one individual animal responsible for the attack could be identified, the herd was hazed with non-lethal deterrents and they moved out of the area.
Last summer there were no fatal attacks on dogs.
According to ADF&G biologist Bill Dunker the musk ox herds aren’t coming any closer to town than they have in earlier years. He also says the numbers of musk ox have not increased. “The population of muskox in 22C has been relatively stable 2007-2017 during which time the population has averaged 376 muskox,” said Dunker. “The next Seward Peninsula Muskox population survey is scheduled for the spring of 2021.”
Dunker says it’s been common to see the animals close in to Nome for about 10 to 15 years. “It is important that local residents take precautions to prevent encounters, especially with dogs,” he said. “Dogs should be under control at all times. Muskox are likely to react defensively when provoked. Dogs should not be left outside unattended. If there are muskox in the area, dogs should be kept indoors or in a securely anchored enclosure.  More information about living with muskox and muskox safety can be found at  https://www.adfg. alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livewith.muskoxen
 

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