Wildlife Advice about Moose(s)

Tips from someone who went to Colorado, once.

Moose (left); people surprised by moose (right).

Pop quiz! What should you do if you encounter a moose?

a. Roll into a ball.
b. Stand as tall as possible and make loud, scary noises.
c. I’m not going to see a moose! This scenario is ridiculous.
d. Run!

Would you be surprised if it turned out that the answer is ‘none of the above?’ Probably not, because this is a pop quiz, and pop quizzes are written by weenies.

But let’s have a moment with the quiz. Because if you are in good health, you might find yourself on a day hike on the western side of the Rockies, like me and three of my closest friends two weeks ago. We came around the bend on the Adams Falls Trail and found ourselves just 50 feet from a bull moose, who was grazing peacefully in a little gully off the path.

“Oh crap!” I said. As we stared at the moose together, Ben pulled out his phone reflexively. Then he put away his phone, muttering something about silly moose-Googling ideas, and we all stared at it a little more. Then we found unique ways to scramble through the brush — ways that highlighted who we are as people, and our various degrees of willingness to break twigs with our faces — and converged on distant ground, where the moose could no longer see us make fools of ourselves.

The kicker was, we’d discussed moose safety on the drive to Adams Falls. But our conversation had been derailed by the proper way to check yourself for ticks, and just how close we are to our friends and loved ones to let them search us for ticks, and one or two strains from Brad Paisley’s ‘Ticks’ song.

So let’s examine some facts about moose, because it’s easy to run into trouble with these rock stars of the Coloradan wilderness, or wherever else gentle urbanites like ourselves occasionally land.

a. Roll into a ball.

You should only do this after a moose attacks you and you’re on the ground, playing for dead like a man who will do anything to win an Oscar. And what are the signs that a moose will attack you? Well, according to Alaska.org, moose are moody — you could be giving them food one moment (don’t do that, you dum dum), and the next moment, they could attack you.

However, moose are passive animals who will normally keep their distance from humans, if we do the same. They are more likely to attack in late spring and summer (if you come between a cow and her calves), late September and October (mating season), or if you bring your tasty little dog along with you. Moose consider dogs their enemies.

b. Stand as tall as possible and make loud, scary noises.

Actually, you should back away and give the moose a lot of personal space, especially if it starts walking toward you. Moose are known to bluff-charge, but you’ve got to take every charge seriously. The YouTube video “That moose is gonna get you Bo” illustrates this perfectly.

c. I’m not going to see a moose! This scenario is ridiculous.

Always read up on where you’re hiking and the habits of its wildlife, and never let a country song distract you from personal safety. Resist the siren call of Brad Paisley.

d. Run!

Moose can run up to 35 miles per hour. During his fastest 100-meter sprint in Berlin, Usain Bolt averaged 23 miles per hour. Don’t run — just get behind a tree and pray that your friend’s dog is around somewhere.

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