Moose encounter? DWR offers tips that could just save your life

Emigration Canyon Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY — You are in the middle of a hike to your favorite waterfall; you come around a corner and notice a large moose in the middle of the trail.

They can be six foot tall at the shoulder, so yes, you’re a dwarf. And a Mama with calves in the spring and summer, and the boys in the fall mating season, can get aggressive.

They sometimes injure humans more often than bears will, says the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, but unlike with bears, curling up in a ball actually works. Bears are meat-eaters, unlike moose, who actually feed on bark and twigs.

What should you do if you have a moose encounter? Here are a few things from the DWR to know about moose in Utah and how to avoid conflicts with them.

Utah moose population profile

Utah is home to between 2,500 and 3,000 moose, according to the DWR website posting this week about the likelihood of more moose encounters this year.

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.

Due to drought conditions this summer, people could see more moose in urban areas in search of water sources.

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.

“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,” DWR Wildlife Section Chief Covy Jones said. “People often underestimate how aggressive they can be.”

Reacting to a moose encounter

If you encounter a moose, here are some tips 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’s 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.


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