Moose are calm creatures in nature, but as their population is growing, they might be a threat to the societies close to them. In states like Alaska, the moose is one of the common animals hunted each year and while it might be a nice trophy, the people in the surrounding areas might not be as happy with the moose roaming freely when they get out.
On hiking trails in the North, one is bound to encounter a moose from time to time and while they are not aggressive in terms of behavior, they might pose a risk to hikers and travelers without any knowledge of them.
We have done the research to find out whether the moose is dangerous and what you can do to prevent any damage from occurring in an encounter.
Overview Of Moose
The moose is considered to be the largest species of the deer family and while they have been reintroduced in several other cold and rocky countries, most of them are still found in North America and Canada.
Moose can grow quite large with adults standing between 4.6 and 6.9 feet tall. They are quite heavy, with the males typically weighing in at between 840 and 1,543 pounds.
However, there are a few Alaskan subspecies that can grow well over the average 6.9 feet and these are much heavier as well. The antlers on these fully grown bulls can also be between 3.9 and 4.9 feet when they reach their maximum size and this is where the moose can cause some damage when it feels like you are disturbing its habitat and cornering it in.
It is also worth noting that the moose is not slow and it will definitely be able to chase down a human being. The top speed of most moose is up to 35 MPH, with some even going a little faster if they feel threatened and the adrenaline kicks in.
Moose Safety Tips
While the moose are quite dangerous, there are a few things that you can consider doing or preparing for when going on your hiking or backpacking trip. These safety precautions could well end up saving your life if you are not equipped with a firearm or a shotgun:
- Make some noise: You can carry something that has the ability to make some noise. Moose generally attack out of fear for their lives and when they are startled, they are automatically on the defensive. A small tin can with small rocks in could make some noise and alert the moose of your presense.
- Try and stay at least 50m from the moose: Once a moose feels like it is pushed into a corner, it will start feeling threatened. The best way to avoid this is to not close in on the moose and to give it at least 50m of space to move in. It also gives you time to react.
- Ask an expert for advice and herding patterns: The best way to ensure your safety is to completely avoid the moose. This can be done by asking a park ranger or expert about their common whereabouts and how you could avoid them on your trip.
- Look for signs of irritability: Moose will gradually become more irritated and this could be a sign of you disturbing it or even getting too close.
- Avoid seperating the female from her cubs: Moose are extremely protective and by getting in between the moose and its cubs, you will place yourself in danger. It is wise to be vigilant at all times and spot the cubs before entering in between the female and the cubs.
Signs Of Moose Attack
Moose rarely strike without warning and it is not an aggressive animal. The moose will certainly try and let you know that it is ready to attack and hopefully give you enough time to get out of their way. Just like humans getting ready to fight, the moose will let you know if you know what to look for when they are encountered.
Raised hackles along the moose’s shoulder is a great place to start and this indicates irritability. The moose might also have its ears pinned back like a charging dog and this also means that it is getting ready to charge at you or run away.
Finally, if the moose is moving towards you with a lowered head, it is not a good sign and your best option will be to get behind something and disturb the line of sight.
What To Do If You Are Encountered By A Moose
If you are unfortunate to walk in between moose in a bad mood, you might find yourself with a ton of stress and start making a plan to defend yourself. However, the best way is not to defend yourself, but rather try and back out of the area as slowly and calmly as possible. If you are out of sight, the moose might continue with their natural proceedings.
If you have successfully backed off, you could consider waiting it out for the situation to get better and the moose to leave, or you should consider taking an alternative route. If the calves are around, your best option will be to leave and find an alternative route around the area.
The final step you can do is to find cover or to find something between you and the moose and to hope that the female or mother is not in a bad mood. Running will only make the moose even more anxious and this might lead to a chase.
The best way to approach this is to stay calm and collected while thinking and scouting the environment for things to help you defend yourself or create a cover.
Are Moose Dangerous? (In Conclusion)
The nature of a moose is not aggressive and while they live peacefully, they can be dangerous and even deadly if you are not careful. A provoked moose might be more dangerous than a bear and it can cause just as much damage.
These steps will help you if you encounter a moose and keep you safe before the encounter turns deadly.