Are moose dangerous or friendly? In this article, I explain how you can avoid a moose encounter by looking for vital moose warning signs and knowing what to do if a moose charges you.
Let me get my very first tip out of the way, though:
If you encounter a moose, DO NOT attempt to approach, feed, or touch it, or let your dog near it either – you could end up regretting it!
So, before I explain what to do if you see a moose and cover the warning signs, let’s go over a few basic details.
Mature male moose are called Bulls – Bull Moose – and female moose are called Cows. Moose are not usually aggressive or afraid of humans – they will not usually run away if they see you or your dog coming either.
However, don’t be fooled to think you’re safe if you cross paths with a moose or more than one. You may not feel that a moose has decided you’re a threat if it sees you, as it can look very disinterested, saunter and act quite chilled, so you can fail to read any warning signs.
Also, remember that moose will do anything to protect their babies and their territory – so it’s essential to avoid them.
Let me tell you, you will unlikely outrun a moose if they decide to attack. Even though an average bull moose can weigh around a whopping 1300 lbs (that’s 589 kilograms), it can still reach speeds of up to 30 miles per hour!
It will also use its hooves and body weight to attack and crush you! Rather you than me.
So, if you see a moose – what should you do? Should you keep walking or back away?
Start by looking for these warning signs:
#1: The moose starts staring at you.
#2: It lays its ears back.
#3: The hair on its neck, hips, and hump stands on end.
#4: Its head lowers and starts walking towards you.
#5: It begins licking or smacking its lips.
#6: Its teeth start clicking.
#7: It shows you the whites of its eyes.
#8: It tosses its head upward like a horse.
#9: It urinates all of a sudden.
If you notice these things or even a few, it’s a sure sign the moose is about to attack.
What can also make a moose encounter even more dangerous is that occasionally, it may decide to charge at you without showing you any of these warning signs. So you need to be a mind reader as well!
Several times during the year, moose tend to be more aggressive than usual.
They’re starving and exhausted from trudging through deep winter snow. Then, the cows will be over-protective of their newborn calves in late spring and early summer. And, in the fall, as it’s the mating season – this is when the bull moose get fruity, frantic, and competitive.
So, now that I’ve covered some basics, answered the question; are moose dangerous? And the warning signs here are some tips on what to do if a moose charges you:
Tip #1 – As soon as you realize that a moose is going to attack, back off, run as fast as you can, and try to hide behind the nearest tree, building, or fence – you want to find something to act as a barrier between you and the moose.
Tip #2 – If the moose catches up with you and knocks you to the ground, curl up into a tight ball, as this will help protect your head and other vital organs if it starts stomping on and kicking you.
Tip #3 – Stay on the ground if it stops and moves away. Then wait until it’s a reasonable distance. Otherwise, if you get up too early, it can come back and attack you again.
Well, the answer is this:
Watch them from a safe distance (at least 50 feet). To help gauge the distance, imagine being far enough away so that you can get behind the nearest tree, building, or fence before a racing horse could get there.
Remain calm and change direction if you meet one on the trail;
NEVER feed a moose – as it will just get more hangry;
If you’re with your dog, keep it on a leash – as a moose may think it’s a wolf and attack.
NEVER walk between a cow and her baby. If you do this accidentally, back away immediately.
And finally, if you’re driving, let it do its own thing and give it time to get out of the way. Don’t get impatient and try to go around it or move it or honk at it, as it may attack your vehicle – remember, a mature bull moose can be taller than a horse, and its antlers can span up to five feet and weigh more than 65 pounds. My money’s on the moose!
Think like a YoYo Survivor and BE PREPARED for when you’re on your own. And always remember – a moose is a wild, dangerous animal, but it can be one of the least dangerous if unprovoked.
Check out How To Fight A Wolf and know wolf warning signs too.
I have a love of the great outdoors and have lived in the backcountry for over 15 years. I like to practice and learn general survival skills and get educated on how to prepare for a natural disaster or emergency where my knowledge could save mine and other people's lives.