Dealing With Aggressive Moose – Safety 101

Nature photographers, hunters, survivalists and other outdoor enthusiasts may run into a moose but may not be aware of the potential danger and the risk involved when interacting with these animals. The purpose of this article is the better educate the reader on how to deal with an aggressive moose should you ever stumble across one of these amazing animals in the wild.

Moose are the largest member of the deer species, they are herbivores and typically have a lifespan of 15-20 years. They are mainly found in the Boreal forest which stretches across the northern hemisphere. Suitably named the monarch of the forest these majestic animals are surprisingly fast and agile for their size. World record moose have been weighed in the range of 1400-1800 pounds, however these numbers are definitely not typical. Male moose have antlers which can spread over 6 feet and are greatly sought after by trophy hunters. Their long powerful legs can propel them as fast as 35 miles per hour.

The Dangers of Northern Moose:

female cow moose with calf

Throughout the northern hemisphere moose populations have been steadily increasing, this raises the chances of running into one of these amazing animals. Mid-may to June female moose tend to be very aggressive, these are the months in which they will be defending their newborn calves from anything that may pose a threat. Venturing close to a female moose and her calf is obviously something one should never do yet every year people are killed or injured from this very reason. In the spring and early summer it is best to use a great deal of caution if you run into a female moose because they will usually have a calf nearby. Females tend to attack and defend themselves by using their powerful front hooves. They have been known to rear up on their hind legs and stomp on predators.

Reports show that female moose are responsible for more deaths in Canada than any other animal including the grizzly! Moose have earned the title of most dangerous animal in Canada.

Male moose are most aggressive when they go into their rut during the fall mating season. When it comes time to mate male moose will stop eating for up to a month and their neck will swell in size. This is the time in which male moose exhibit dominant behavior and go into a frenzied rage. Should they attack they will lower their set of antlers and charge, they can also use their antlers to maul, stab and throw the victim around while they are down.

Did you know that in the wild moose and canines are instinctively enemies? Dogs are in the same family as wolves, a moose will see them as a predator and may act aggressively. If you are with your dog and encounter a moose take control of your animal and immediately get to a safe distance.

How To Avoid A Moose Attack:

Usually if a moose feels threatened or agitated by a human they will react in a few different ways, moose will usually show signs that its time to back off, warning signs must be identified to avoid an attack.

Keep an eye out for the following signs, these often mean the moose is getting ready to attack:

  • Making an approach toward you
  • Laying back its ears
  • Making grunting noises
  • Stomping or clawing the ground
  • Swinging its head back and forth

Best Defense Against An Aggressive Moose:

With moose populations steadily rising in many areas you may be unlucky enough to stumble upon an enraged bull moose. If it charges you without warning the best you can do is run in the opposite direction or stay behind something that will distance you from the animal. Most of the time moose will stop charging if you run away but come mating season male moose become very aggressive and may continue to chase you.

Depending on the situation you may need to seek cover behind a large tree or rock and keep moving around it to keep away. If you can safely do so climbing up a tall tree where the moose can’t reach you is a good option, you can wait for it to leave the area then climb down and go on your way.

Should you get knocked down protect yourself as best you can by covering your head with your hands and arms and stay as still as possible. Trying to get up, hitting the moose or grabbing the antlers will only further aggravate it.

You should have some bear mace stored in your survival pack for these types of situations. Bear mace will repel many kinds of aggressive animals, whether it be wolves, coyotes, bears, moose, wild hogs, badgers, hyenas, lynx or mountain lions the mace will send them running.

The #1 Key To Staying Safe is Prevention!

If you want to stay safe it is important to keep a distance from these animals, although they are beautiful, peaceful animals in nature their power must be respected as they can quickly take a human life. Observe from a far distance and remember that if you give them their space they may be comfortable enough to stick around and let you snap some pictures.

Click to read a government report on how to deal with aggressive moose.

You may also be interested in: Learning about Bear Mace
Finding Food in the Wild | Choosing a Survival Machete

  1. Reply
    John F. August 7, 2016 at 7:12 pm

    Hunters also know to be very cautious around moose. Especially bow hunters who get up close and personal. If you shoot them from close range they charge and try to take you out! They don’t have the best vision but once they get close enough they’ll spotcha!

    I’ve gone moose hunting a few times, but I seem to only see them when hunting season is over or I don’t have tags lol. That’s my luck!

    • Reply
      Carnivore August 27, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      I hear ya John. I’ve been bow hunting for moose many times and I’ve been lucky enough to bag two of them over the years. There’s nothing like the rush of calling in a moose and it walks 15 feet from you but can’t see you, you draw back and release the shot fully expecting him to charge.

      Still, nothing compares to the guys in BC who hunt grizzly bears with a bow. Those guys have balls of steel.

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