Preventing & Surviving a Moose Attack

Although they appear gentle, wild moose attack hikers and tourists every year in Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Alaska and throughout Canada.

In fact, in the mandatory, park ranger introduction session I underwent as a Glacier National Park employee, the park rangers said wild moose are more dangerous than grizzly bears. I couldn’t believe it!

Park rangers told us that a moose will attack you when they feel threatened and are trying to ensure that you are not dangerous. Since a moose weighs upwards of 1,500 pounds, ensuring you are not a threat can be the same as being hit by a car!

Generally, a wild moose judges a human as threatening due to bad judgment on our part, which is why you must know the reasons why moose will attack before hiking through moose habitat.

Why Wild Moose Attack

Moose attacks generally occur in two seasons and for two reasons:

  1. Early Summer with Calves – Moose mommas (or cow moose) are likely to have their calves alongside them during this time of year. If you come between a cow and it’s calf, you are in trouble
  2. Fall and Mating – Bull moose are highly aggressive in the fall when courting cows. If you encounter a bull moose during mating season, it may perceive you as a mating threat and ward you off by attacking

Another reason a moose will attack is if the moose is provoked by man or canine. If you see a wild moose, do not provoke it with words or weapons, such as rocks or sticks.

Regarding your dog, moose are used to canines, such as coyotes and wolves, attacking their young. Consequently, it will perceive your harmless dog as a threat. In Glacier National Park, you do not need to worry about this as dogs are not allowed on hiking trails.

How to Survive a Moose Attack

Remember, a moose charges to ward off potential threats. Wild moose are aggressive, but by assuring the bull or cow that you are not a threat, you can survive an aggressive moose encounter.

Signs of an aggressive moose include:

  • Walking in your direction
  • Stomping its feet
  • Peeling its ears back
  • Grunting
  • Throwing its head back and forth

These are all signs of an aggressive, wild moose. If you are hiking through moose habitat and encounter a moose behaving in this manner, it perceives you as a threat and you must be prepared for an attack.

Should you encounter an aggressive, wild moose, here is how to prevent and survive an attack:

  • Back away with your palms facing the moose
  • Speak softly and reassuringly, like you would to a little child
  • If the moose charges, get behind a large tree or rock in order to separate your body from the moose. Most moose charges, like grizzly bear charges, are bluffs
  • If the moose attacks you, feign death by curling up in a little ball. Protect your head and neck with your arms. If you are wearing a backpack, your pack will protect your back
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