LOVELAND, Colo. – State wildlife officials in Colorado say the number of dangerous encounters with moose is on the rise.
“Over the last few years we’ve seen an increase in human-moose interactions and moose just going places where we haven’t historically seen them,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kristin Cannon told KDVR.
She says some years her office in Loveland has not received any moose-related calls. Recently though, they have been getting about ten to fifteen calls per year from the Boulder and Larimer county areas.
“And of those maybe two or three could be human safety issues,” she said.
Cannon says most of the moose attack cases are the result of people getting too close while trying to take a picture. The animals do not back away and hide when threatened. Instead, they will attack to defend themselves.
“They kick and stop and just can do a lot of damage with their hooves,” she said.
Humans are no match for the six-foot-tall, one-thousand-pound animals. If dogs are present, moose can be even more dangerous.
“Dogs resemble their natural predator which is the wolf and so moose tend to be much more aggressive around dogs,” Cannon said.
That’s not to say that if you cross paths with a moose you can’t still enjoy it. You are just encouraged to view it safely.
“It’s just really important to give the moose as much space as possible,” Cannon said.
Wildlife experts suggest using your thumb to determine a safe distance. If you can close one eye and cover most of the animal’s body with your thumb, you’re likely far enough away.
There are several warning signs if you get too close.
“If the hair on the back of his neck stands up that’s a signal that they’re starting to get agitated,” Cannon said. “If they start to change their behavior in any way or they pin their ears back or their hackles come up then you know you’re too close and it’s time to back off quickly.”
If a moose charges, do not stand your ground. It is best to try and get behind something like a car, house or building until the moose backs off and leaves the area.
CPW has put together a guide with more information about safe moose practices.