Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Malformed moose hit by vehicle — Hooves had abnormal growth

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

On Jan. 12, the story began ordinarily enough: Moose struck by vehicle on Kenai Spur Highway near Tesoro refinery. Family called to drive out and salvage meat.

Then the typical changed to the unusual: Family arrives to discover an oddity — dramatically elongated hooves. Family calls the authorities for an explanation.

According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service wildlife biologist Elizabeth Jozwiak, the moose — an older cow carrying a 2-month-old fetus — had “abnormal hoof keratinization.”

Keratins are a family of fibrous structural proteins that form hard mineralized structures in mammals: hair, nails, horns, claws and hooves.

On the Kenai Peninsula, some moose are believed to suffer from abnormal keratinization either because of a copper deficiency in their diet or an inability to process copper efficiently. The most visually pronounced evidence of this abnormality occurs in the hooves.

Whereas a normal, healthy moose of the same age might have hooves 3 to 5 inches long, three of this cow’s hooves were about six inches longer than that, and the rear left hoof was 10 inches longer.

According to Jeff Selinger from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, local state biologists hear at least one report a year concerning such hoof abnormalities.

Despite the elongated hooves, which tend to be softer and more rubbery than normal hooves, he said, the afflicted moose seem to manage all right.

The deformity did not necessarily contribute to the moose’s collision with the vehicle.


gbrax said...

We live in Palmer and have observed a cow with the same condition, she has visited our yard for several years.

ginababy said...

perhaps the moose is not malformed. It's hooves may not have gotten worn down as they normally would because they were soft and rubbery. Animals with hooves depend on the groud as a natural 'nail file'. i'm not sure but it's a possibility.

Aha!bit said...

The Muskox at the Anch., zoo also seem to have elongated hooves. Although I've always assumed their long nails are a result of their confining lassitude, I wonder if a similar deficiency plays any role. I for one, have never seen a "real" muskox up and close, so who knows.....maybe they normally have elf feet???

Lisa said...

Wow, very interesting. I've never seen anything like that before.

snafu said...

Listen up people. Elongated hooves are normal. Quit wringing your hands over it.

AK™ said...

I live on the Kenai Peninsula..I've seen plenty of moose,both up close and far away.I have yet to see one with elongated hooves.

Maybe it's the water out there in the Nikiski area.

sharksinthesalsa said...

i have seen this in almost all hooved animals...however this individual seems to be an extreme case...its mostly a result of improper wear on the hoof early on and then just abnormal growth without correction...breaking off for example

horseshoer said...

Horses sometimes suffer from a condition know as laminitis and/or founder. I have heard that cattle can also suffer from the disease. Left untreated the condition results in hooves that are very long and curled up. Sure looks like the same thing to me.