Anchorage Alaska is known for being a combination of a budding urban center and rural Alaska. Specifically the cohabitation of some of Alaska’s most iconic animals and humans stands out, a feature many Anchorage residents cherish. It makes the city incredibly unique especially when compared to basically every other mid sized city on the planet. It also gives residents some incredibly unique stories, like that of BuzzWinkle the drunken moose.
Wildlife is known to be found all around Anchorage and instead of viewed as a pest many residents take the opposite approach. They are the pests who have chosen to encroach on these animals habitats. With notable exceptions such as dangerous wolf packs roaming the city, animals are largely allowed to coexist with humans. Even moose who eat fermented crab apples until they are drunk and rowdy enough to tear down neighborhood Christmas lights or crash the party at the bars downtown.
Both of which were activities BuzzWinkle was fond of and for that reason he became household name for many in Anchorage.
Apples trees aren’t common in Alaska, but there are enough for a wayward moose to go on a bender if they so choose. Fermented crab apples are the main ingredient in multiple alcoholic drinks and when the apples hit the ground and become moose food, they are filled to the brim with alcohol.
Moose are known for their drunken rampages and in countries like Finland, Sweden, or a place like Alaska, it’s actually a pretty common occurrence. In 2013 a mob of drunken moose stormed the streets of Stockholm and forced a gardener into his house. Keeping him there while they trampled his garden. In 2007 a similar occurrence put Anchorage Alaska on the map and BuzzWinkle rose to internet stardom.
BuzzWinkle appeared in downtown Anchorage quite frequently, but it wasn’t until one night of heavy fermented apple eating that he became an Anchorage icon.
Bernie’s Bungalow Lounge is a bar in downtown Anchorage that sports an open courtyard and one of BuzzWinkles favorite crab apples trees. Patrons of the bar noticed BuzzWinkle in the courtyard staring blankly into the future, eventually laying down in the courtyard where some believed he had died. Animal control officers were called who confirmed BuzzWinkle was in fact still alive, thanks to the steady stream of steam intermittently spilling from his nose as he breathed.
Moving a passed out, incredibly drunk moose is a challenge and officers decided to let the moose sleep it off. It wasn’t long before a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News arrived on the scene and dubbed the moose BuzzWinkle. Half because of the aforementioned drunken stupor, the other half because of the Christmas lights wrapped around his antlers which had been there since he showed up at the bar for his share of fermented apples.
In fact it wasn’t the only time BuzzWinkle had took it upon himself to tear down neighborhood Christmas lights.
An animal control officer who responded at the bar recalled a previous encounter with the moose before he earned the name BuzzWinkle. “I remembered another encounter with the future BuzzWinkle several years earlier, a caller from the same neighborhood reported a large moose dragging several long strands of white lights. When I found the bull he was standing under several crab apple trees on a carpet of fermented fruit,” wrote Rick Sinnott, an Alaska Fish and Game Department employee who interacted with BuzzWinkle frequently.
BuzzWinkle spent a lot of time downtown and once he became a local celebrity people around town called Sinnott frequently to call in sightings. The calls were somewhat confusing to Sinnott who had seen BuzzWinkle downtown numerous times and he was far from the only moose to appear in Anchorage. After his encounter in the bar downtown he was surely one of the most popular.
Unfortunately though by the time BuzzWinkle rose to stardom he was an old moose. And old Moose have a hard time in the winter. Which is part of the reason a moose like BuzzWinkle resorts to eating fermented crab apples in the first place. During the winter months nutritious food is hard to come by, a problem compounded by BullWinkle’s affinity for city life. Food was hard to find and as an old moose, even a famous one, BuzzWinkle had a harder time finding it. Which eventually led to a phone call to Rick Sinnott that devastated many in Anchorage.
There was a sick Moose in Anchorage. He wasn’t moving much and Rick Sinnott needed to go check it out. When he arrived he was face to face with a moose he had known for a long time and helped on more than one occasion, none other than BuzzWinkle. Unfortunately the long winter had taken a lot from BuzzWinkle, so much that Rick Sinnott decided it necessary to put the local celebrity out of his misery. So Rick went to his truck and grabbed his shotgun, putting a quick end to BuzzWinkle’s long and eventful life.
Even in death he made a buzz, newspapers and television shows across the globe eulogized the quirky moose. BuzzWinkle may not have made it through the cold winter but his memory lives on in the hearts of those who read about him and those who hold cherished memories of his hijinx.