Iditarod issues time penalty to Seavey for not properly gutting moose that he killed on the trail

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Iditarod officials on Wednesday imposed a two-hour time penalty on musher Dallas Seavey for not properly gutting the moose he killed during the race earlier this week.

Race marshal Warren Palfrey convened a three-person panel of race officials to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of the moose, which became tangled up with Seavey and his dog team early Monday, about 12 hours after the dayslong race officially started. One dog was injured in the encounter and flown back to Anchorage for care.

If a musher kills a big game animal like a moose, caribou or buffalo in defense of life or property during the race, rules require they gut the animal and report it to officials at the next checkpoint.

Seavey, a five-time Iditarod champion, encountered the moose shortly after leaving the checkpoint in Skwentna. He used a handgun to shoot and kill it about 14 miles (22 kilometers) outside the village at 1:32 a.m. Monday.

According to the panel’s findings, Seavey spent about 10 minutes at the kill site, and then mushed his dog team about 11 miles (18 kilometers) before camping on a three-hour layover.

The team then departed at 5:55 a.m. for the next checkpoint, arriving in Finger Lake at 8 a.m., where Seavey reported the kill.

“It fell on my sled; it was sprawled on the trail,” Seavey told an Iditarod Insider television crew at the Finger Lake checkpoint, where he urged race officials to get the moose off the trail.

“I gutted it the best I could, but it was ugly,” he said.

A statement from the Iditarod said it had “been determined that the animal was not sufficiently gutted by the musher." By definition, gutting includes taking out the intestines and other internal organs, officials said.

The Iditarod can impose time penalties if a majority of the three-person panel agrees a rule was broken and that a competitive advantage was gained. Penalties can range up to a maximum of eight hours per infraction.

Time penalties can be added to mandatory layovers each musher must take during the race or to a musher's final time after they reach Nome.

Officials said the two-hour penalty will be added to Seavey’s mandatory 24-hour layover.

The moose was retrieved and its meat salvaged and processed. Iditarod associates in Skwentna were distributing the food.

Seavey was leading the Iditarod on Wednesday, the first musher to leave the checkpoint in the mining ghost town of Ophir, about 350 miles (563 kilometers) into the race after only staying for 15 minutes. Musher Jessie Holmes arrived in Ophir first, nearly two hours ahead of Seavey, but appeared to be resting. Four other mushers were also in Ophir.

The ceremonial start was held Saturday in Anchorage, with the competitive start beginning Sunday.

This year's race has 38 mushers, who will travel about 1,000 miles (1,609 kilometers) across two mountain ranges, the frozen Yukon River and along the ice-covered Bering Sea. About 10 days after the start, they will come off the ice and onto Main Street in the old Gold Rush town of Nome for the last push to the finish line.