There are few things more thrilling than encountering a moose while hiking. These huge animals are graceful and powerful, and it’s definitely a sight to behold. However, if you’re not familiar with moose behavior, it’s important to know what to do if you see one while hiking. In this post, we’ll share tips on avoiding startling a moose and what to do if you encounter one while hiking.
What is a Moose?
So, what exactly is a moose? Moose are the largest member of the deer family, and they can weigh up to 1,600 pounds! Yup, you read that right.
They’re native to North America and Europe and typically live in forested areas. Moose are most active at dawn and dusk, so if you’re hiking during those times, you’re more likely to see one.
They also eat up to 70 lb per day (talk about an apatite!) of leaves, twigs, and plants. So, if you see a moose while hiking, chances are it’s just looking for a snack.
They also have quite a symbolic meaning; moose are known to be protectors and guardians.
There are approximately 1,000,000 moose roaming North America, but a majority of them reside in Canada.
Are Moose Dangerous?
Moose are generally calm animals but can be dangerous if they feel threatened. If you startle a moose, it may charge at you and attack. Moose are also more likely to attack during the fall mating season (September-October), so that’s something to keep in mind if you’re hiking during that time.
That said, moose attacks are relatively rare and usually only happen if the animal feels threatened or trapped. If you give moose plenty of space, chances are it will just go about its business and leave you alone.
However, in Alaska, there are actually MORE moose attacks than both grizzly bear and black bear attacks combined! Surprised? There could be a very reasonable explanation for that. In Alaska, specifically, moose outnumber both bears 3 to 1.
Additionally, Alaskan moose tend to be less shy around humans than moose in other parts of North America. So, if you’re hiking in Alaska, it’s especially important to be aware of your surroundings and give moose plenty of space.
Where Are Moose Typically Found?
In regards to terrain, moose are most often found in forested areas near water sources like lakes, ponds, and streams. They’re also common in wetlands and swampy areas.
As for climate, moose are well-suited for cold weather, and they typically live in areas with long winters and short summers.
In North America, the highest concentration of moose is in Canada. But, you can also find them in the northern United States, Scandinavia, and Russia.
What to Do if You See a Moose While Hiking
Now that we’ve answered some common questions about moose, let’s talk about what to do if you see one while hiking.
As we mentioned before, it’s important to give moose plenty of space. If you see a moose while hiking, avoid approaching it or getting too close. Moose are most often calm but can become agitated if they feel threatened.
If you’re hiking with a dog, make sure to keep it on a leash and under control. Moose have been known to attack dogs that come too close, so it’s important to keep your furry friend close by. Moose tend to see dogs as predators, so they may view them as a threat. Learn more about wildlife safety tips, here.
If you’re hiking with a group, it’s best to stick together. Just like with most other wildlife, moose are less likely to attack if there are multiple people around.
What Should You Do If A Moose Charges At You?
If you somehow find yourself in a situation where a 1,500 lb freight train is charging straight towards you – RUN. Run as fast away from the moose as you possibly can.
If you can find a tree to climb, run towards the tree. Moose can’t climb trees, so if you can get to one, chances are the moose will lose interest and go away.
A majority of the time, a moose charging at you is a bluff. But do you really want to find out if that 1,500 lb moose is just bluffing? We didn’t think so.
In short, if a moose does charge at you, run away as fast as you can.
Moose are fascinating animals, and it’s always a treat to see one while hiking. Just remember to stay very far away! If you see a moose while hiking, don’t be nervous. Instead, take the time to enjoy the experience and snap a few pictures from a distance – you’ll be glad for it!