Moose are Loose!
Over the years, moose have been spotted near Wilbur, Keller Ferry, and at the top end of the park near Kettle Falls.
As the largest member of North America's deer family, the moose (Alces alces), they are dark brown and long-legged with massive shoulders. They have prominent muzzles with an overhanging upper lip, and a large flap of hair-covered skin that hangs beneath the throat called a "bell."
Washington's moose belong to a subspecies called "Shira's" moose, which is physically smaller than more northern moose. Adults can measure nearly six feet at the shoulder! A bull's antler spread can be as much as 6-1/2 feet across. Bulls weigh between 850 and 1,100 pounds and adult females or cows weigh between 600 and 800 pounds.
With its great size and food demands, the home range of the average moose in any given season is about three to six square miles, although they wander much further.
Stay safe around moose!
Most people seem to like moose because they're so different. They don't spook or shy away from us as readily as deer, appearing more docile or even curious. But remember: anything that big can be very dangerous!
Actually moose, like any wild animal, can feel threatened by and fearful of people. Although with their long legs they could outrun us, they are not built for speed like deer and will often choose "fight" over "flight" to escape a situation. A charging moose often kicks forward with its front feet, knocking down the threat, then stomping and kicking with all four feet. Antlered bulls can use their racks just as lethally.
Check out this big bull moose wading a stream in Glacier National Park!
What should you do when you see a moose?
Give any moose you see lots of space. If you're hiking in the woods, get out of the way in whatever way works -- back off, change directions, and enjoy the animal only from a distance.
This is especially important during the winter for snowmobilers and skiers because moose travel on broken trails to save energy.
Be especially alert around cow moose in late May and throughout June since there is a good chance a newborn calf is around. If you see a calf and not a cow, be extremely careful moving out of the area; you may have walked between mother and baby, which is probably the most dangerous place to be.
While enjoying the outdoors in the fall, be alert for bull moose in the breeding season. The peak of this "rut" is generally late September and early October, but it can extend from early September through late November. Cow moose can be aggressive at this time, too. Although these animals aren't focused on you at this time, give them a wide berth to avoid being mistaken as intrusive competition.
If a moose wanders into a suburban or urban neighborhood where it will have trouble wandering out because of traffic and other human congestion, contact WDFW's Spokane office (509-456-4082) for assistance. Meanwhile, confine dogs and other pets and keep children inside and quiet. Give the moose ample room to move out of your yard. Don't block escape routes or allow others to do so. Draw curtains on large glass doors and windows so that moose don't mistake them for an escape route.
Do not approach any moose, even if it seems quiet and gentle. Moose often lay down in the shade of buildings and trees to rest and cool down. If approached repeatedly, even by the best-intentioned onlookers, it may become stressed and aggressive. Enjoy the visitor from a respectable distance. Use binoculars and telephoto camera lenses. Be patient.
Never feed moose. Moose that are fed by people often become aggressive when they are not fed as expected. They may attack another person who has no food to offer. A moose with a history of unprovoked attacks on people may have to be killed to protect public safety.
For more information about the wildlife of Eastern Washington, visit the Washington State Fish and Wildlife website.
Last updated: March 30, 2021