This certainly falls under the heading of “belaboring the obvious,” but here we go anyway: Large animals can be dangerous.
Recently, in Boulder County, Colorado, a woman who was out walking her dog was charged, headbutted, and stomped by a cow moose.
A woman in Colorado was headbutted and stomped on by a moose while she was walking her dog, wildlife officials say.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said the incident happened Wednesday along the South Saint Vrain Trail near Ward, outside of Boulder.
“The woman and her dog surprised a moose on the trail Wednesday morning. The cow moose charged the woman, headbutting and stomping on her several times,” it said. “She was able to walk to a nearby neighbor’s house, where they called Boulder County deputies.”
Officials say the woman was taken to a local hospital while the dog – which the neighbor says was leashed – had minor injuries.
In this case, it seems the unnamed woman did nothing wrong — at least she wasn’t trying to retrieve a watch from a porta-potty — instead, it was just an unfortunate incident of being in the wrong place at the wrong time and surprising a large, powerful animal. The Colorado Division of Wildlife noted a trend of increasing moose attacks some time ago:
In the case of Colorado, it’s not that the moose have suddenly taken it on themselves to attack people so much as people are increasingly moving into moose range. Interestingly, moose aren’t native to Colorado; the Centennial State’s animals were introduced in 1978 from a Wyoming population of Shiras moose.
In this case, the Colorado Division of Wildlife posted warnings around the area and issued a press release:
“Hikers should be aware moose may be in the area resting or eating. Moose can perceive dogs as a threat, and CPW encourages dog owners to keep them on-leash at all times to avoid confrontations,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife also said in a statement. “Cow moose can become particularly aggressive when their calf is nearby.”
The story also notes that wildlife officers were not able to locate the moose and calf, although it’s not clear what action they could have taken if they had.
A Shiras moose bull, the subspecies found in Colorado, can weigh up to 1,200 pounds. That, as one might imagine, can make an attack from such an animal devastating. The Shiras moose is the smallest of North American moose; hereabouts, we have the Alaska/Yukon subspecies, bulls of which can weigh close to a ton. The Alaska/Yukon moose aren’t just the biggest moose; they are the biggest cervid (deer) alive on the planet today. A full-grown example isn’t afraid of anything except, maybe, a grizzly, and they can be aggressive. Here in Alaska, there is a moose for about every four people, and we treat them with great caution (although now and then, one makes its way into the freezer). In winter, they like to hang around our plowed driveway and parking area for easy walking.
I hasten to note that when I took this photo, I was using a 200mm lens, there was a six-foot berm of plowed snow between me and the moose, and I was well positioned to duck behind the tractor if he suddenly objected to my presence.
Moose are big and aggressive animals. So, yes, you want to give them a wide berth. Ditto for bison, bears, and other big critters.
While the woman in Boulder County apparently did nothing to provoke the moose, there is a distinct trend of people with odd ideas about wildlife acting stupidly around big, wild animals — or even domestic ones. Expect that trend to increase.
When it comes to moose, there’s one further precaution: If you see one keeping company with a flying squirrel, leave the area immediately. Those two have a history of trouble following them.