Hikers warned to beware cold, stressed-out moose after woman attacked

Moose partially hidden in snowy bushes
(Image credit: Getty)

If you're heading out on a winter hike, remember that wildlife may be stressed-out by the cold, and be more aggressive than during milder weather. That's the warning from Idaho Fish and Game after a woman was attacked by a moose and knocked unconscious after it charged her from a distance of 20ft.

In a press release (opens in new tab), the agency explained that the incident happened on January 13 close to the woman's home, and followed an encounter where her small, unleashed dog approached the larger animal, seemingly aggravating it.

"The moose ran at the woman, hitting her in the head which reportedly knocked her unconscious for a brief time," said officials. "It is unknown what happened immediately after the contact, but her injuries are consistent with a moose continuing the attack while the woman was on the ground."

Fish and Game have advised anyone venturing outdoors in moose country to take particular care during cold weather, and be aware of signs that indicate the animals are unhappy. Although they may look slow, they can react surprisingly quickly when provoked, and cover great distances in seconds.

"In winter, moose can become stressed due to extreme cold and deep snow while their food supplies are scarce, and their fat reserves are being depleted," said the agency. "Minimizing disturbances during the winter is critical to reduce stress to moose and other big game animals."

Moose safety

If a moose is agitated, you may notice its ears laying back, and the hair rising on the back of its neck. It may also snort or grunt, and stamp its hooves.

This behavior indicates that the moose might charge at any time. The best course of action is to get something solid between you and the animal as soon as possible – such as a wall, car, tree, or large rock. If it's safe to do so, try to get inside your vehicle or a building.

Idaho Fish and Game also advises always keeping your dog on a leash if wildlife is present. Game animals might still see a leashed dog as a threat, so it's best to keep them away completely if animals like deer, moose, or elk are present. For more advice, see out guide what to do if you see a moose while hiking.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).