Moose are found all over the northern ranges of North America. From the shores of Nova Scotia, through the plains of Saskatchewan, right to the secluded mountain ranges of Alaska. With all the hype and fear being about bears and wolves (With good reason) the moose is often over looked as a threat. And with having such a diverse living area, and out populating most of your typical “aggressive wild animals” by 5X in some areas it is important to talk about ways to avoid getting attacked, how to look for some aggressive moose signs, and what to do when the moose starts laying the hooves to you. Because if you do anything out in the bush or live in a city/town with a moose population in the surrounding area you are going to run into one of these Frankenstein wildlings sooner or later.
First let’s start with how dangerous moose actually are. Moose have been deemed the gold medal champions in human ass whooping’s with more attacks on humans than bears and wolves combined annually, these animals sure don’t take much crap. Moose attack more people in North America than any other wild animal (let’s not forget that crocodiles, bears, wolves, cougars, and many other “aggressive” animals live amongst us here in the Americas) and are said to be second next to the hippo world wide for attacks on humans. With only 3 reported deaths caused by a moose stomping these animals are more likely to leave you with a few broken bones a black eye, fat lip, and the feeling of what the hell just happened. But don’t underestimate these heavy weight brutes, many fish and wildlife reports and animal protection books have named the moose the most dangerous animal in the woods. You might be thinking well if I am not in the woods I should be okay right? Sorry to rain on your parade, but the most dangerous place to run into these animals is in your car on the high way. Transport Canada has reported between 1999-2003 there where 9,740 moose related vehicle collisions, 105 of them being fatal. With bears on average killing 3 people a year due to attacks, the moose might not finish you on the trail but he might just get you on your drive home.
So what do you do if you run into a moose on the trail? Well first things first keep your distance just like any other wild animal, they are unpredictable, and you can’t ask them nicely how there day is going. If you do come face to face with a moose it is always nice to have some tricks in your artillery. “Know some of the signs of an irritated/aggressive moose.”
· If the moose is eating and stops and looks at you (they don’t like changing their behaviour)
· When the lay back their ears or raise the hair on there hump, neck, or hips
· If they smack their lips or chat their teeth
· Lowers its head and starts walking your direction
· Opens its eyes wide enough to see the whites
· Whips its head back like a horse
If you see a moose showing any of these signs its probably best you high tail it out there. These animals can run up to 30mph, now that’s a lot faster than you. So if you do find your self getting chased down, you got to get out of there and try a find a tree or some sort of barricade to put between you and the moose (They are very large so moving around big trees is hard). But if you cannot move fast enough and you find your self getting hoofed by a 1200 lb moose, just get into the tightest fetal position you can and try not to make noises or move. Once the moose feels like you are no longer a threat it will most likely move on.
Why do moose attack? Moose attack mainly out of protection. Weather it is a cow protecting her calves or a big bull moose defending his territory, the main reason is because you got to close to them and they must stop what ever their doing to eliminate the problem (you) and like stated before moose do not like changing their behaviour. With that being said, there has also been a lot of reported random moose attacks mostly coming out of the Alaskan city Anchorage (they have a very high moose population). Another reason they attack is when people feed them. Moose eat lots of food and when you tease them with a couple of handfuls of willow bush then walk away they get pissed off. So its better to just not feed them at all. But just like anything out there in mother nature it is very unpredictable so its just better to choose your battles wisely and don’t start a fight you can’t finish.
STAY WILD AND STAY SAFE
Alaska Department of Fish and Game http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=livewith.aggressivemoose
Glacier National Park Travel Guide http://www.glacier-national-park-travel-guide.com/moose-attack.html
Appalachian Mountain Club http://www.outdoors.org/publications/outdoors/2010/learnhow/responding-to-moose-encounters.cfm
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/moose.html
Moose Safety University of Alaska at Anchorage http://www.uaa.alaska.edu/upd/prevention/moosesafety.cfm