LOGAN RANGER DISTRICT – Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is warning anyone recreating outdoors to be aware they could come in contact with a moose. The animal may look docile, but they can get very aggressive in a hurry.
“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,” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources Big Game Coordinator, Covy Jones said. “People often underestimate how aggressive they can be.”
Adult moose can weigh between 800 to 1,200 pounds, and bulls can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Due to their large size, moose can be dangerous when they feel threatened. In some areas of the U.S., wildlife agencies report that more people are injured by moose than bears each year, DWR spokesperson Faith Heaton Jolley said.
Dr. Terry Meesmer, a Wildlife Specialist at Utah State University, said this time of year some moose, like a lot of other animals, will have their young near them.
“People walking or hiking outside can come in contact with moose or some other wild animals,” he said. “The big thing is they want to get a selfie with them and they want to get close. You need to give them their space,”
Messmer said most of the time they are tame looking, but when you get too close, or between the mother and her calf, it could mean trouble.
“If the hair on their neck starts to stand up, they lower their head, start licking their snout or pinning their ears back, it’s time to find cover,” he said. “If you get charged, find cover, get behind a tree. If the moose knocks you down, make your body as small as possible. Roll up into a ball and stay still.”
Messmer said if you encounter a moose, make your presence known by talking and making a little noise.
“In some of the other more populated places in the state, we try to get information on what to do and how to behave when people see a moose,” Messmer said. “We have a lot of moose on the Wasatch Front. In those areas where moose are present, we will hang door knockers on doors to let people know moose are in the area.”
He said, “Be Wild Aware,” which is an education program providing Utah residents and visitors with wildlife awareness, safety information, minimizing conflicts with Utah wildlife.
“When we are in the wilderness, we are in their home and we should respect their space,” Messmer said. “When we talk about social distance, moose and elk should have that same respect.”
Moose populations are healthy, and if you are out in the mountain areas, the chance to see a moose in the higher marsh areas are pretty good, he said DWR reported Utah is home to between 2,500 and 3,000 moose. The largest animals in the deer family, moose can be found along the Wasatch Front and in northern and northeastern Utah, typically in forested areas. Moose generally eat aquatic vegetation during spring and summer, and then switch to a diet of bark and twigs in the winter
Dogs loose in the wild can cause a moose to feel threatened when they get too close, which can make them aggressive and lead them to charge, knock over and stomp on a person.
For more moose safety tips, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.