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Moose Count

In some parts of Alaska, state wildlife biologists determine the number of moose living there by aerial surveys, but as such surveys aren't feasible in Anchorage, biologists are turning to DNA sampling instead, the Associated Press reports.

"We've been taking an educated guess," biologist Dave Battle tells the AP, about the Anchorage moose population. "There's really been no technique up until now and it's something we've been kind of beating our heads against the wall for the last couple of years about it."

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game asked city residents to call or text when they spotted a moose and it then sends out state biologists to shoot it with a dart gun to collect its DNA, according to the AP. It adds that the dart feels akin to a bee sting and that, as it has a heavy barrel, it falls out quickly with a skin sample to be retrieved by the team.

With DNA from the moose, the state biologists starting a database and building a moose family tree as well as estimating the moose population size in the region, the AP reports, adding that the samples could also be used as a version of mark-recapture studies to also estimate moose abundance.