Visitors to Alaska are often concerned about encountering bears; yet more people each year are injured by moose than by bears. Moose aren’t inherently aggressive, but will defend themselves if they perceive a threat. When people don’t see moose as potentially dangerous, they may approach too closely and put themselves at risk.
Give Moose plenty of room! Enjoy viewing them from a distance. Cow moose are extremely defensive of their young so use extra caution around cows with calves.
In the summer months, moose blend in well to their environment and can be surprisingly hard to see for such large animals. They are likely to stand their ground even when they hear people approaching, so pay close attention to your surroundings, especially in prime moose habitat such as willow thickets or around streams or ponds.
If you do find yourself close to a moose:
- If it hasn’t detected you yet, keep it that way.
- If it knows you’re there, talk to it softly and move away slowly.
- Don’t be aggressive – you want to convince the moose that you aren’t a threat.
- If you think the moose is going to charge you, take cover or run away.
Watch for signs that the moose is upset - if its ears are laid back and hackles are up it is likely to charge. Most of the time, when a moose charges it is a ‘bluff’, or warning for you to get back – a warning you should take very seriously! Once a moose bluff charges it is already agitated. If possible, get behind something solid (like a tree or a car). Unlike with bears, it is okay to run from a moose. They usually won’t chase you and if they do, it’s unlikely that they’ll chase you very far. If a moose knocks you down, curl up in a ball and protect your head with your arms and keep still. Fighting back will only convince the moose that you may still be a threat. Only move once the moose has backed off to a safe distance or it may renew its attack.
Did You Know?
The Hoary Marmot is the largest member of the ground squirrels. These guys hibernate half or more of their life away. They have very thick fur and a substantial fat layer that protects them from the cold. You are not as likely to see them on hot days as they hide in the shade to keep cool.