Summit County visitor escapes tense moose encounter while hiking
FRISCO — A visitor to Summit County escaped a scary encounter with a moose outside of Frisco last week.
On Sept. 13, Michael Rohr and some friends were helping a group, including Rohr’s son, carry equipment to a camping site west of Frisco. As Rohr’s four-person group was heading back down to town on the North Tenmile Trail near the Gore Range Trail crossover, a bull moose walked out onto the trail and blocked the way.
“We were walking down the trail, just enjoying the hike back, and all of a sudden, a big bull moose jumped out on the trail probably 20 yards from us,” said Rohr, a former Frisco resident who now lives in Madison, Wisconsin.
Rohr said the moose turned away from the group and took a couple of steps. The group — which included friends Skip and Anne, along with Rohr’s wife, who is also named Anne — waited on the trail, thinking the moose would continue to walk away. Knowing that moose and dogs don’t get along, Rohr picked up his dog, a six-pound Yorkie named Razzle Dazzle.
But after three or four minutes, the moose turned around and began to walk toward them.
“That’s when my friend and the two ladies looked for some trees to get behind, so they’d have some form of protection. I knew I had bear spray, and I had seen moose before, but I didn’t know what it was going to do. So I stood right there and looked at it. It took probably 10 more steps, and it lowered its head, and I knew that wasn’t a good sign.
“I started backing up very slowly, and I thought he might stop. But he didn’t. He kept coming right toward me. When he got probably 15 feet away, I reached in my backpack and pulled out bear spray, which I always carry when I’m out in the Rocky Mountains.”
Rohr said he turned around and took a few steps toward his friends, but when he turned back to check on the moose, it had gotten closer. He took the safety off the bear spray and sprayed it once into the air above the moose’s antlers.
“He immediately stopped and lifted his head up like he could smell it,” Rohr said. “He turned around, made two jumps away from us, stood there for a minute and jumped into the woods.
“He left the trail, went back from wherever he came from, and we never saw him again. But as big as he is, and with all the rocks and trees, you couldn’t hear him go. It was absolutely amazing.”
Tom Davies, district wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said there have been a number of incidents involving moose this year — including in Summit County, where Parks and Wildlife and law enforcement had to warn visitors not to approach the animals last winter.
Davies noted that there have been fewer incidents recently, aside from sporadic run-ins on the trail similar to the Rohr’s. Davies said moose are typically more aggressive during rutting season, which typically begins around mid- to late September.
When asked about the incident Rohr experienced on the trail, Davies said the better option would have been for Rohr to join his friends behind the trees instead of staying on the trail.
“You never stand your ground with a moose,” Davies said. “He’s lucky the moose turned around with the bear spray. In my experience, they’ve charged me every time I’ve pepper sprayed them. Moose are huge animals, and they are a lot stronger than us. We need to make sure we give them the leeway they need. They always have priority on the trails.
“I would move off and take cover behind a big tree until it moved off, and then continue on my hike.”
Rohr said the group took extra care to keep their eyes open as they continued their hike, and they took the opportunity to warn joggers and hikers heading up the trail about the potentially aggressive moose.
“One guy came up with a big white dog,” Rohr said. “I told him I’d turn around, and if the moose sees that dog he might be in trouble. He said ‘I think that’s a good idea.’”
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