Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Day 4: Moose: The Other White Meat?

Fair warning: This story involves a dead animal and its inevitable demise to become food for someone. Don't read if you don't want to know what I saw today.

Today was one of those days when I had a lot of driving in town: drive the girls to the orthodontist, then take them back to school. Because they could fit my oldest in for the impressions and diagnostic things right after her appointment, I drove on the same stretch of road several times within an hour. This is why I saw the steps involved, as described below. (Again, if you're of tender stomach, don't read. I mean it.)

So, on our way to the orthodontist, we have to slow down and pull over for an ambulance, siren wailing and lights flashing. After getting back on the road, we turned the bend and saw why there was an ambulance: a pick-up truck with its front end dented and windshield shattered within its protective covering, and a dead moose.

You may remember just a couple days ago I lamented not having seen any moose in our two months living in Alaska. So imagine how dismayed I was that the first moose my oldest daughter and I get to see, is lying dead on the side of the road.

I already knew from both the Alaska Highway Patrol show on National Geographic AND the Alaska driving manual that roadkill belong to the state. The state then distributes the meat from the dead animal to charity.

What I did NOT know until today was that the animal is not taken to a butcher and processed, after which the meat is delivered to the charity. Ohhh no, my friends. Read on.

On my trip to take my youngest to school, we see different trucks by the dead moose and see some men poking at it and lifting its leg. We speculated about it, thinking they must be seeing if the meat is edible or something.

Driving back from this side trip to pick up my oldest, who was getting impressions done in preparation for braces in a few weeks, I see that the moose no longer has any skin on. And that one of the men I saw was hacking at the leg. I was horrified and repulsed. The skinned moose was white, as if it was layered in fat, and I saw the bone and muscle below the white (fat?) layer.

I go into the orthodontist office again, and as I'm writing the first of several large checks, I ask the office manager about the dead moose. She informs me that the people who "get" the meat as charity have to pick it up on the side of the road where the animal is freshly dead, so the meat doesn't spoil. If you're on "the list" and you can't come, they call the next person on the list till they find someone. This includes charities as was stated earlier, and people on subsistence.

They literally butcher that dead animal roadkill ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.

So that, my friends, is what I learned about moose today.

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