You are on your way to your back 40, when suddenly you notice a moose in the middle of the woods. What should you do? Here are a few things to know about moose and how to avoid conflicts with them.
The largest animals in the deer family, moose can be found a in any forested northern regions of the United States, all the way through Canada and into Alaska. Moose generally eat aquatic vegetation during spring and summer, and then switch to a diet of bark and twigs in the winter.
Adult moose can weigh between 600 to 1,000 pounds, and bulls can stand six-feet tall at the shoulder. Due to their large size, moose can be dangerous when they feel threatened. In some areas of the U.S., wildlife agencies report that more people are injured by moose than bears each year.
“In my years of working with wildlife, I have dealt with bears, rattlesnakes, cougars and moose, and the only species that I’ve had turn and come back at me was a moose,” DWR wildlife section chief Covy Jones said. “People often underestimate how aggressive they can be.”
Cow moose can be aggressive when they have calves in the spring and summer, and bull moose can be aggressive and territorial during the fall breeding season. Moose often feel threatened when people or dogs get too close, which can make them aggressive and lead them to charge, knock someone over and stomp on them.
Some physical warning signs that a moose may become aggressive include:
- Lowering their head
- Hair standing up on the neck
- Licking their snout
- Pinning their ears back
If you encounter a moose, here are some tips to help you stay safe:
- Always give the moose a lot of space and watch its behavior.
- Never try to approach or feed a moose.
- Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times.
- Stay calm and do not run away. Talk, make your presence known and slowly back away in the direction you came.
- If a moose charges you or chases you, hide behind something solid (like a tree) or try to get inside a vehicle or building.
- If a moose knocks you down, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until the moose retreats.
A humble homesteader based in an undisclosed location, Lars Drecker splits his time between tending his little slice of self-sustaining heaven, and bothering his neighbors to do his work for him. This is mainly the fault of a debilitating predilection for fishing, hunting, camping and all other things outdoors. When not engaged in any of the above activities, you can normally find him broken down on the side of the road, in some piece of junk he just “fixed-up.”