Was it so cold in Alaska that a moose froze in its tracks?

An image showing a young moose frozen in place, still standing, was widely shared in Alaska this past week.

But was it so cold recently near Talkeetna – 35 below zero, with heavy snow drifts – that a moose could freeze to death without falling over?

Some on social media accepted this possibility while others suggested that the photographer stood the moose carcass in a clearing for a more striking image.

But Mickey Kenny, the photographer who captured the image last Monday, shot down that theory on a Sharing Alaska Facebook comment thread.

Kenny stated:

“Just for the sake of focusing our efforts in the right direction, I most definitely didn’t stage the moose, nor were there signs of anyone propping it up, though enough people have put that theory out that there must be strong reasons to believe it.”

Kenny said he returned to the site Tuesday and observed that the moose was not leaning against a tree, “but it does look like an alder sort of pinned its hip.”

Kenny added: “Seems like an easy enough thing for the moose to work through, but keeping in mind the insanely deep snow, the fierce cold spell, my thought is that it just accepted the pin and [passed] away.”

More recently, however, Kenny told Alaska’s News Source that friends told him they’d heard that the moose had been moved into the clearing by others others who discovered the carcass near a hiking trail.

Kenny is quoted: “That moose was dead and frozen on the trail, and then, you know, a friend of a friend saw a group of people — like six to eight of them, move the moose carcass off the trail — still no explanation on why it was stood up, or exactly like how it stood up so perfectly, but basically, they did that.”

That hardly solves the mystery. But the death of the moose, regardless of circumstances, illustrates how tough winters can be for large animals that don’t hibernate and can’t easily hide from the elements.

Story originally appeared on For The Win