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Approaching a Moose in the Wild

Most people really love the moose because it’s just so different. They don’t scare easily, and they don’t act spooked or shy the way that deer do. They might even appear curious or docile to some onlookers, and that can be misleading. There is something to keep in mind about the moose, and that is that it’s large, and that means it can be incredibly dangerous too.

A moose is a wild animal, and wild animals can get threatened by people and get fearful of them. They might be able to outrun humans with their long legs, but if humans take off running, they don’t tend to follow. The moose isn’t designed for speed, and it would rather fight than take flight in a given situation. A charging moose will kick with its front feet forward, and it will then kick and stomp with all four feet. Watch out if you get trampled by a moose. The attack can be deadly. Antlered bull moose can use their racks to fatally damage.

Moose can be aggressive in all years, but they are more so at particular times of they year. They are more aggressive in the late spring and early summertime when a cow might feel that her calf is at risk. They might also feel threatened in the autumn when a bull is breeding, and he is highly competitive and agitated, and ready to take on anyone or anything. They are also more aggressive in the wintertime when they are low on food, and they are hungry, often after walking for a long time in heavy snow. Anytime that dogs bark or chase after them they can get scared easily. If people approach them too close, they could frighten easily and attack too.

Since those particular times when they’re most aggressive take on most of the calendar year, what is your plan of action when you do encounter a moose?

Most critically, give any moose that you see a lot of space. If you’re out on a hike in the woods, get away in any way that works – look at the animal from a distance, change directions, or back off. You have lots of options here.

This is critically significant during the winter months when skiers and snowmobilers are out there because moose traverse broken trails to conserve energy.

You have to uniquely aware of cow moose at the tail end, pun intended, of May and throughout June because there’s a great chance that there’s a newborn calf somewhere around. If you see a calf alone, and you don’t see a cow anywhere around it, you have to be incredibly careful getting away from the area. You have just stepped in between a mother and her baby, and that is the most dangerous thing that you can do.

While you’re out having a good time in the faill, be on the alert for bull moose because they’re breeding. It’s usually the end of September and early October that are the peak of this rut, but it can go all the way from the beginning of September to late November too. Cow moose can get really aggressive at this time as well. Even though the animals won’t be concentrated on you at this time, still give them plenty of room so that you won’t be considered competition.

Make sure that all dogs are safe in moose country. Moose think dogs are enemies, and that’s because they’re related to wolves. Moose might go out of their way to kick a dog, even a dog that’s on a leash or fenced off in a yard. If you see a moose near your home, just bring your dogs inside. If you’re out on a walk with your dog, and you spot a moose, then make sure your dog is silent, and take another route home. Don’t camp or hike with dogs when you’re in moose country. You don’t want to draw their unwanted attention or ire. You want to stay clear of moose as much as possible. If you encounter them with a dog near you, then go home silently.

If you are out driving, and you see a moose walking in the road or standing, let the moose pass. It might just be trying to conserve energy or rest, and if you to get it away from its place, your car might come under attack. If you are night driving that has a lot of moose, drive slowly and be extremely cautious, because a crash with a moose could be fatal to the moose or you.

If you see a moose wandering into an urban or suburban neighborhood, where it could get struck by traffic or have trouble getting away, then call the WDFW for help. Simultaneously, cordone dogs and other pets off and keep your children safely inside and silent. Give the moose plenty of room to get out of your yard. Don’t section off escape routes or let others do so either. Draw your curtains on big glass doors and windows so that the moose won’t think they’re an escape route.

Don’t ever go near any moose, even if you think it looks gentle and quiet. Moose often rest in the shade and cool down. If they are continually approached, even by the best-intentioned people, it can become extremely aggressive and stressed. Enjoy the moose from a remote distance. Unse a telephoto camera lens and binoculars to get a look at the moose. Stay patient too.

Don’t ever food a moose. Moose that are fed by humans sometimes become aggressive when they don’t get the amount of food that they expect. They might attack a person if they don’t have any food to give too. A moose that has a long history of attacking people unprovoked could be killed for the public safety.