What do you do if you encounter a moose?
The Colorado Division of Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service describe the moose as one of Colorado’s most-charismatic animals and have designated July 31 as Grand Mesa Moose Day. Fun, games, activities, and moose viewing information, presentations about moose biology and moose history among other activities.
This is the fun way to learn about one of the west’s most dangerous mammals. Last week I wrote on what to do if you run into a bear while hiking or in your campground, but even a bear will run from a moose.
You have no doubt heard how dangerous a moose cow can be when protecting her calf and a bull during breeding season. And you probably wouldn’t approach a moose–any moose–with an air of nonchalance. But the occasion could arise when you inadvertently run into one on a trail or in your campsite. And moose are territorial, unpredictable, and dangerous at all times, so if you have a close encounter a moose, wildlife experts suggest the following:
- Move slowly, being careful not to make any quick or sudden movements.
- Never get between a cow and its calf.
- You are in potential danger if you are closer than 50 feet.
- If you see its ears go back or the hair on its hump stand up, it is angry and may attack–and can kick lethally with both front and rear feet.
- Never throw anything at a moose (unlike bear encounters).
- Keep your dog under control as it will only anger the moose, which will then chase it.
- If it charges you, get behind something large, such as a tree or boulder.
- If it knocks you to the ground, protect your head, stay still, and play dead.
- If all else fails–RUN. Some say that a moose is the only wild mammal or predator that you can run away from.
- And lastly, following a harrowing moose encounter, change your underwear.
As I said in the bear article, wild animal attacks are rare, and most happen when someone does something stupid (check “moose attack” on YouTube). In my only close encounter with a moose, I was running a trail alone in the Grand Tetons and almost collided with a large bull that had its head down eating grass in a thickly forested area. I didn’t see it until, startled, it raised its head–they’re really big! I was only about 20-25 feet away. I froze. It froze. I s-l-o-w-l-y backed up avoiding eye contact. When I was far enough away, I took a wide loop around him and continued on my way. In that instance, the advice worked. But with moose, be prepared for anything.
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WARNING: The disturbing video below is not for the faint of heart. This man was attacked trying to enter a building in a town in Alaska. He saw the moose cow and calf but tried to go around them. What he didn’t know, was that some students had been throwing snowballs at them and the cow was agitated. Even more disturbing is that the cars continued to drive by and the videographer continued to shoot while the man was being attacked. The man later died of his wounds. But this will demonstrate just how dangerous a moose can be when provoked.