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How to stay safe if you encounter a moose this summer

By TownLift // Ashtyn Asay,


UTAH — Utah is home to between 2,500 and 3,000 of the largest members of the deer family, the moose.

Adult moose can weigh between 6oo-1,000 pounds, and bulls can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. These large animals can become aggressive when threatened, and in some parts of the US more people are injured by moose than bears each year.

Cows can become especially defensive when they have calves in the spring and summer, and bull moose are more territorial and aggressive during the fall breeding season.

“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,” said Covy Jones, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources wildlife section chief. “People often underestimate how aggressive they can be.”

Moose view dogs as predators, and feel threatened when they get too close.

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 from the DWR 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. It is against Utah law to allow dogs to chase or harass protected hoofed wildlife, like moose.

  • 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.

Report moose that have wandered into lower elevation areas and are within city limits or heavily populated areas so that the DWR can relocate the animal. Avoid approaching moose or attempting to herd them yourself.

“Like with most wildlife, if you give moose plenty of space and don’t try to get too close, it will help keep you and them safe,” Jones said. “Our biologists relocate numerous moose in urban areas every year, and we really want people to admire these amazing animals from a distance and stay safe.”

For more moose safety tips, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

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