I have now had two close-ish encounters with moose.
The first occurred soon after I moved here. It was not late, but it was dark. I was pulling my car around to get at my mailbox, and I noticed a LARGE dark shape. I couldn’t remember that dark shape being there before, and just as I was scratching my head in confusion, it moved.
When the headlights of my car managed to catch it, the moose was revealed in all its muscular glory. No matter where I drove, the moose would not leave my mailbox. So I decided to get my mail later . . . because the moose was taller than my SVU.
The second encounter was from a slightly greater distance. I noticed a moose and her baby in my neighbor’s driveway one weekend afternoon.
The most important thing to note about this photo is the size of the moose. If you need scale, just use the minivan being dwarfed by the 1,400 lb. hunk of meat.
The funny story behind this photo is that I saw the baby moose first, and I thought that it was maybe an adult. Until its mother walked up behind it. I’ve seen moose before, but their sheer size never ceases to amaze. Alliteration is absolutely awesome.
I’ve been in Alaska for about three months, and everybody has some horror story about moose fatalities. At an in-processing briefing, I was made to watch a moose mauling a man in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Moose can be aggressive, and the mothers can be extremely protective of their young. I have one friend who apparently used to feed moose out of his hand as a child . . . but by and large, everyone else warned me how belligerent and brutal they can be. The next important thing to understand is the relative size of a moose. They generally outweigh grizzly bears. Wrap your mind around that, and come back to this post later.
Eventually it occurred to me to wonder what to do in the event of a moose attack. After all, there’s bear spray and bear bells for bears – surely there would be something equally effective against moose?
You have two options in the event of a moose attack. The first, and better, option is to put something between yourself and the moose. They’re not too bright, and this can stymie them. The second, less preferable, option is to run in very tight circles until the moose becomes tired and gives up. The goal is to outlast the moose. Moose are so large that they can’t corner well, so they can’t catch a human running in tight circles. This is how Norwegian elkhounds hunted moose; they would track one down, allow themselves to be chased it, and run it in circles until it wearied. Then the hounds would go in for the kill.
The best thing to do is admire from a distance with your eyes. Never, under any circumstances, put yourself between a mother and a mooselet. Moose associate dogs with wolves, and they will sometimes back down at the sight of a dog. If you’re going to try to shoot the moose, use a big ol’ gun otherwise you’ll just piss it off. Finally, remember to never give a moose a muffin.
And this concludes today’s lesson on things I never thought I’d have to know, but is now extremely valuable information.