By Jennifer Jackson, Regional Communications Manager
On the morning of Wednesday, March 9, a hiker was charged by a moose on Gibson Jack trail south of Pocatello in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. The hiker sustained a few injuries from the encounter but was able to hike out safely.
The individual was hiking with his dog when a moose charged from behind. The hiker recounted that he was not aware of the moose until the animal was already upon him. To escape, he jumped off the trail into deeper snow, quickly covering his head with his arms. The moose stomped him two or three times before withdrawing. The hiker says he remained in the snow quietly for a few seconds before standing up. The moose had moved down to the creek, keeping an eye on the hiker and his dog as they slowly passed the moose and returned to the trailhead parking lot.
Though conflicts with moose are usually rare, moose can be defensive if startled. This is particularly true during the fall when bulls are rutting and in the spring when females have calves.
This encounter serves as an important reminder to all trail users to be aware of your surroundings when recreating in the great outdoors and to know the proper course of action when encountering wildlife like moose.
So what do you do if you see a moose?
Keep your distance, at least three car lengths between you and the animal. Never approach a moose, especially a female with her young.
If recreating with dogs, maintain control of your pets with leashes and don’t allow them to chase moose or other wildlife.
A moose will often bluff by pawing the ground and licking its lips. If it lowers its ears, a charge is likely forthcoming!
If a moose charges, run. Try to keep a tree or other object between you and the moose, or climb a tree if necessary.
If you find yourself on the ground, curl in a ball and do your best to protect your face and head. Try not to make noise. Moose charge because they perceive you as a threat. If you are curled up on the ground quietly, you will likely appear less threatening.
Discharging a can of bear spray may also deter a charging moose.
If you have any questions about recreating around wildlife or if you have a wildlife encounter to report in southeast Idaho, please contact the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at 208-232-4703.
Media contacts: Caribou-Targhee National Forest Public Affairs Officer Jared Fisher at 208-313-7809 and Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Communications Manager Jennifer Jackson at 208-251-9403.