If you are a city dweller, you are probably more worried about muggers than moose attacks. But, if you live in a rural area, are a hunter, or if your leisure hours include enjoying the outdoors and bicycle rides, hikes or walks in wildlife areas, then be aware that the number of moose attacks is on the rise.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is alerting outdoor enthusiasts that since early spring, wildlife officers have already responded to three human/moose conflicts. In all three instances, dogs — both on and off-leash--were involved. The dog reportedly spooked the moose before it charged and seriously injured the dog's owner.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have just issued a reminder that moose can become very aggressive when either dogs or humans get too close- and it is pretty hard to tell exactly where a moose’s personal space begins.
They have issued some pointers on how to avoid a close encounter with an unhappy moose, and the Pagosa Daily Post shares what to do if you suddenly find yourself nose to antlers with a 1,000-pound ungulate that takes exception to your presence.
"Almost all incidents with aggressive moose involve dogs getting too close to the animal," said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs.
DON’T LET YOUR DOG APPROACH A MOOSE
Wildlife officials caution that dogs should never be allowed to approach a moose because there is an unmistakable similarity with wolves, their primary predator--which triggers a lot of self-preservation instincts.
In most cases, a threatened moose will naturally react and try to stomp on the dog. The frightened dog will typically run back to its owner--bringing an angry, thousand pound moose with it!
MATING SEASON HEIGHTENS PROTECTIVE INSTINCTS
Female moose — called cows — are very protective of their young, especially in the early summer months. Bulls will aggressively defend their territories from humans, dogs or other moose any time of year, with increased aggression during mating season in late September.
Sidener adds that in the interests of safety people should consider leaving their dog at home if they plan to visit an area where moose are common, even if it is legal to walk a dog in the area.
HOW TO IDENTIFY AN AGITATED MOOSE
If you encounter a moose, signs that it is agitated by your presence and may charge include, a lowered head, ears pinned back, raised hackles, swaying back and forth and licking its snout.
In some cases, moose may not give any warning that it may charge and it is up to you to be aware of your surroundings. Leave the area as quickly as possible and avoid cornering the animal.
If the moose charges you, run away as fast as possible and try to put a tree, vehicle or other large object in between you and the moose.
If you are knocked down, get up and try to get away. Do not stay on the ground! (Remember, they stomp first and ask questions later.)
LEARN FROM BIRDWATCHERS
"Enjoy viewing wildlife from a distance by using binoculars, a camera lens or a spotting scope, and do NOT let your dog approach moose or other wildlife," said Watchable Wildlife Coordinator Trina Romero.
“A rule of thumb to keep in mind with all wildlife - if the animal reacts to your presence, you are definitely too close."