Wildlife officials: Moose, dogs don’t mix
In the wake of several people being injured by moose in recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds people that moose can be aggressive when dogs and humans get too close.
Several recent incidents in Grand Lake illustrate this. In two instances there last year, dogs — both on and off-leash — reportedly spooked moose before they charged and seriously injured people.
Moose in Colorado have few natural predators and are not generally frightened by humans. However, state wildlife officials caution that the large ungulates see dogs as a threat due to their similarities with wolves, their primary predator. Wildlife officials caution that dogs should never be allowed to approach a moose.
“Almost all incidents with aggressive moose involve dogs getting too close to the animal,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs. In most cases, a threatened moose will naturally react and try to stomp on the dog. The frightened dog will typically run back to its owner bringing an angry, thousand pound moose with it.”
As more people enjoy Colorado’s outdoors, wildlife officials remind the public that moose can be found in areas where they did not exist only a few years ago. They stress the importance of understanding moose behavior when living or recreating in areas where moose are now common.
The best practice for sharing space with moose is to give them plenty of room, whether hiking, biking, snowmobiling or cross-country skiing. Keep pets away and avoid moose that appear stressed by human activity.
Sidener adds that in the interests of safety, people should consider leaving their dog at home if they plan to visit an area where moose are common, even if it is legal to walk a dog in the area.
If you encounter a moose, signs that it is agitated by your presence and may charge include, a lowered head, ears pinned back, raised hackles, swaying back and forth and licking its snout.
In some cases, moose may not give any warning that it may charge and it is up to you to be aware of your surroundings. Leave the area as quickly as possible and avoid cornering the animal.
If the moose charges you, run away as fast as possible and try to put a tree, vehicle or other large object in between you and the moose. If you are knocked down, get up and try to get away. Do not stay on the ground.
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