Grand Lake: When moose attack
March 9, 2008
Lynne Schott planned to get her arm x-rayed Thursday to rule out what might be a stress fracture after a close encounter with an angry bull moose determined to guard his territory.
It happened two weeks ago when Schott was walking her dog, Annie, on a county road.
She and Annie, a Blue Healer, took one of their many favorite routes in the vicinity of Schott’s Wild Acres home outside Grand Lake.
They turned onto a side road, and just as they rounded a bend, saw a rather large moose staring back at them.
The dog gave out a surprised yelp, which didn’t go over well with the moose.
The dog started to run in the other direction, sensing the moose’s temper.
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Schott turned around slowly to walk away.
When she turned her head to make sure the moose had not followed her, Schott saw the large animal charging her.
With full force, he knocked Schott’s left side, sending her into a snow bank.
Then, the moose went after the dog.
With no luck locating the dog, the moose returned to Schott still lying in the snow and hovered over her.
Schott had been walking with ski poles, but lost one upon impact.
She took her remaining pole and pointed it toward the moose.
“Then in the deepest loudest voice I could muster, I yelled ‘No!’,” she said.
The moose stared at her a few seconds longer, then decided to back off and return to the wetlands he had been browsing.
Schott made an escape and met up with Annie.
“Boy, I don’t know why he had mercy, but he did, and I feel very fortunate,” she said.
It seems like only yesterday an agitated bull moose fatally injured one of Grand Lake’s elders, Louis Heckert, two years ago on March 26. That same month, March 12, a moose attacked a 55-year-old women near Grand Lake’s Rainbow Bridge.
That incident, unlike Heckert’s, also involved a dog.
“I would say that 95 percent of the moose incidents I hear about start with someone saying, ‘I was walking my dog when …,'” said Kirk Oldham, DOW District Wildlife Manager for the Grand Lake area. “Because wolves are a moose’s main natural predator, moose are extremely aggressive toward dogs regardless of the dog’s domestic nature.”
And some believe a moose sees a dog’s owner as the “wolf’s” pack leader, explaining why many times a moose will seek out the human if feeling threatened.
Dog owners are encouraged to walk their dogs on a leash, especially in moose territory.
Winter, when moose are protective of habitats, isn’t the only time moose can be aggressive, according to the Division of Wildlife. Bulls, or male moose, may be aggressive during the late fall breeding schedule when they will actively protect breeding territories. And Cows, or female moose, will aggressively defend calves when they are born in the early summer months.
If you see a moose in the wild, DOW officials recommend that you do not approach the animal.
If you surprise a moose, they may charge you, such as what happened with Schott.
“These charges can be bluff charges to determine if you are a threat, or they may result in the animal trying to knock you to the ground. Moose will attack by stomping on a threat,” according to the DOW. “If you are charged by a moose, run. Get something large like a rock, or a car or a tree between you and the moose. If you are knocked to the ground, get up. If you’re attacked, fight back.”
Schott, a former Longmont animal control officer, never had a fear of animals ” until she met that moose.
“I’ve been on walks since then and I’m a bit gun shy now,” she said.
The bull moose had already shed his rack, a fact that may have saved Schott from being more seriously injured.
“I think it serves as a reminder to people to not become complacent about moose,” she said. “This is their territory, and people need to be aware of that when out driving and walking dogs; they need to keep their eyes open and be alert.”
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