When you think of dangers in the wilds of Montana, specifically regarding wildlife, your mind probably turns to the big bears that seem to be the forest king. If not, it might turn to some sort of wild cat species indigenous to the area that has been known to attack humans. But it is doubtful your mind went directly to the moose.
While to many, the moose might seem to be a lovable, harmless oaf of an animal, looks can be deceiving. Moose are responsible for many injuries and deaths yearly in Montana. Still, most attacks by this dangerous animal can be prevented if you adhere to a few guidelines and implore some common sense.
A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing?
One of the main things that make the moose so dangerous is the fact that they don’t look dangerous. Moose tend to have a sort of lackadaisical, laid-back appearance at first glance, and that kindly appearance is what often gets non-savvy nature-goers suckered in.
Because moose tend not to be afraid of humans, one might be tempted to either feed or pet them. Big mistake!
While moose might not be afraid of people, that does not mean they want to come into close contact with them. You are asking for trouble if you get too close to a moose. If a moose feels threatened, it will likely charge toward that danger. In this case, the human trying to get close enough to pet them.
If you attempt to feed a moose, at first, they may appear to accept your offering graciously. However, if the critter does not feel they have been given enough to eat, they can become angry, again, charging the object of their displeasure.
Who Let the Dogs Out?
One of the leading causes of moose attacks can be traced back to dogs. While there is no doubt that your dog is protective of you, a barking dog can be confused with a wolf to a moose. Because the moose and the wolf are natural enemies, a moose will often attack a dog and its owner who have unwittingly crossed its path.
If you are planning to go on a nature walk with your dog at your side, make sure that you have a leash on your pup, and try to avoid areas where moose might be.
Moose are very protective of their calves and are quick to attack if they feel you are threatening their young.
If you happen to come across a moose calf on its own, do not approach it, as its mom is, no doubt, nearby. The same rules apply to stumbling upon a mom and baby together. Avoid them like the plague if you do not want to provoke the moose.
Watch Out for Mating and Hangry Moose
Moose tend to be more aggressive during the fall and winter months.
During the fall, males are more aggressive than usual because they are preparing to breed. The need to breed makes them more agitated and on-edge than average, so beware.
When it’s more challenging to find food in the winter, moose tend to be grumpy because they are hungry and tired of foraging for their next meal. They just may take their aggressions out on you.
When Moose Attack
If a moose attacks, you have over half a ton of raw power coming at you. They can run up to 30 mph and will use their hooves, antlers, and whole body weight to take you out.
There are several warning signs that the moose loose and is about to go left on you. Some of the things to look out for include:
- It stops what it’s doing and takes note of you.
- The hair on its back stands up, or it starts smacking or clicking its teeth.
- It lowers its head as it nears you or starts to whip its head back and forth.
- It urinates.
- You can see the whites of its eyes.
If you are in the unfortunate position of being under assault by a moose, there are a few things you can do. Some of those things include:
- Run and Hide - If a moose is charging toward you, run for the nearest strong barrier you can find to put something between you and the beast. Look for a tree, structure, or even a fence to prevent the critter from being able to dig its antlers into you or trample you.
- Ball Up - If you can’t outrun the angry moose, curl up into the tightest ball you can, protecting your head and vital organs. Moose have been known to continue trying to attack even after it thinks you’re no longer a threat. If they stomp on you, you’ll stand a better chance if you try to protect your head and stomach area. Even if you think the moose is gone, wait longer than you might think because they could come at you again.
It might be surprising to know the greatest danger that moose present to humans is on the road. More people are killed in automobile crashes involving moose than in moose attacks.
If you are driving through an area with high moose traffic, proceed with caution and go slower than you usually would so that you can stop quickly if a moose darts out in front of your car.
If a moose crosses the road while you’re driving, your best bet is to let it pass. If you don’t, the moose might feel threatened, causing them to attack your car.
The Final Word on the Ferocious Moose
The moose is a beautiful, majestic creature who is at home running in the wild. It can coincide with humans, provided that humans grant it the respect and space that it deserves.
If you come across a moose in the wild, just keep in mind that you are on its territory. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash, leave it be, and run like the wind for the nearest cover if it comes after you. Keeping these and a few other tips in mind when dealing with this potentially dangerous critter will keep you safe and ready to commune with nature another day.