Based on Wikipedia:

Moose injure more people than any other wild mammal and, worldwide, only hippopotamuses injure more.

In this case, what should I do to decrease the risk of being injured ?

I guess the first thing to do would to make sure that the animal is aware of my presence but is there any else to do?

And when facing the animal, what attitude should I adopt?

  • 4
    Don't enter a car ;) (I'm sure the vast majority of moose-caused injury is to people in cars)
    – gerrit
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 20:00
  • 1
    Don't carve your initials in it with a sharpened toothbrush! Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 2:16
  • Jan - you just made my day :-) "One of the mani interesting furry animals yu mai see on a høliday in Sweden this year."
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented Dec 14, 2012 at 9:04

2 Answers 2


The primary way people die in a moose encounter is in car accidents. When a car hts a moose, because their legs are so long, generally the moose's body slides across the hood and collides with the windshield and people. Combined with the larger weight of a moose compared to a deer or other wildlife, people are much less likely to survive an accident when their car hits a moose. So to decrease your chances of "dying by moose", drive more slowly (especially at night) in moose country, never drive sleepy, and have the best and cleanest headlights you can.

That said, it is possible to have an altercation with a moose that doesn't involve a car, and at least in theory you could be hurt. Some tips for being safe around moose are at these links:

They boil down to:

  • do not approach a moose (on land, or on water if it's shallow enough for the moose to walk out to your boat)
  • do not throw things at a moose
  • pay attention to body language which is just like that of dogs, cows, etc: ears back, hair/fur on end, odd noises - you know what all this means, so let them communicate with you and back off if you can see they are upset
  • if they charge, don't call their bluff, run away and if you can, hide behind something

I have met a moose on a trail (while carrying a 90 pound pack) and I assure you I did not need any special training or background knowledge to run away. As it turned out the moose also ran away in the other direction.


This is a great example of technically true statistics being misleading. I'll take their word for it that more people get injured by moose than any other animal except hippos. However, I strongly suspect that most moose injuries are due to automobile collisions with moose.

Moose have evolved to be big enough so that predators aren't a threat to a healthy adult. I saw a really neat film once of a full grown adult male moose holding off a pack of wolves on Isle Royal. The moose put on a kicking demonstration. It was pretty impressive. I didn't know they could keep all four hooves flying around like that. The wolves were suitably reminded that a wolf skull is no match for flying moose hoof, and that contact was likely enough if they got closer. They gave up and left after a while.

Anyway, the point is moose are big, and don't need to smart or stealthy or give a crap whether you want to occupy their space. Their space is anywhere they feel like, whenever they feel like. Sometimes that happens to be in the middle of a road. They didn't evolve with cars around, so a car is just another don't-care to them. That's bad for you when you happen to be coming around a curve a bit too fast. The tall legs usually means that the body will hit at the windshield instead of the bumper like a deer. That means the next thing that happens is the shards that used to be your windshield proceed thru your skull and other similarly fragile objects. If the shards don't shred your skull, then the 1000 pounds of moose meat right behind them will squish it into obvlion well enough.

Most of the time, moose in the wild regard you with the same don't-care attitude. They'll do what they want to do. The problem is not that you'll be perceived as a threat but a annoyance. It's really not smart to piss off something that's big and dumb. Just stay far enough away and the moose won't care.

Take pictures if you want, assuming you're out of annoyance range, but never use a flash. I saw that almost go badly once for some moron that didn't get the memo. I was in northern NH and there was a moose just standing around in a puddle maybe 20 feet off the side of the road. I don't know why a moose would want to just stand there, but it's not the moose's job to explain. Remember the part about a moose's space is wherever it feels like it being. That day for that moose it happened to be in that puddle. I pulled down the road a bit, put a long lens on my camera, and took a few pictures over the roof of my car. The moose didn't look annoyed, but I made sure to keep the car between me and it. Then along came the aforementioned moron. Instead of going down the road a bit like I had, he pulled over right next to the moose. I could see the moose getting mildly irritated. The car had invaded the edge of his space. But, cars and humans and stuff don't really matter, so the moose kept standing there in his puddle. When the moron got out and walked around to the close side of the car, the moose looked over there again. When the guy walked closer and took a few pictures with his point and shoot camera, the moose was getting clearly annoyed. Then the moron walked to within 10 feet right in front of the moose and took a picture. I don't know if it was intentional or just stupidity, but the camera flash went off. I say stupidity not only because it a really dumb idea to get in the face of something ten times your size and then light off a flash, but it was also daylight and the flash was silly even from a purely photographic point of view. At this point, the moose just had enough, so he put is head down and made like he was going to charge the moron. I wish I had video of what happened next. I don't think the moose's feet ever moved, but the moron sure did. That's the fastest he moved, beer belly and all, in probably a couple decades. Camera went flying one way, moron the other, but they both somehow ended up in the puddle. The moose apparently decided the annoyance was dealt with and that this particular puddle wasn't where he wanted to be anymore, and slowly ambled off into the woods.

I said earlier that most of the time moose will regard you with a don't-care attitude. There are two exceptions to this, a mother with a calf, and a adult male in late fall.

The mother with calf will usually just collect the calf and walk off, but don't count on that. Keep your distance. As long as she doesn't think you're a threat to her calf, you'll be OK. However, it's hard to know what exactly her threat threshold is. It's smart not to find out. However, in reality you'd have to do something pretty stupid to get hurt this way.

The real danger is from a male in late fall. This is when the males sort out who gets the local females. Passing on genes is serious business. Every moose you see is a descendent of a long line of male moose that successfully passed on their genes. That means the male moose in front of you isn't the offspring of those moose that didn't fight for mating rights, or that tried to fight but lost. Nope, you're looking at the culmination of a long line of winners. Moose are big and strong but not too bright, so the successful male algorithm needs to be simple. Basically if it moves, chase it away. If it won't (or can't) run away before you get there, flatten it. They can tell you're not a moose, but sometimes don't care. Remember the long line of winners thing. Occasionally flattening a human as collateral damage doesn't keep you from being a winner, but thinking about it and not fighting for your ground right away can. So best to flatten and not ask any silly questions that might require both neurons in your tiny brain to fire at the same time. Obviously this is bad for the silly human that happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately large male moose in the fall aren't concerned about being seen or heard. In fact, they often deliberately advertise their presence. If you hear something big bumping around that time of year, go the other way. If you see one, DO NOT go closer. That's like saying "in your face, moose!". Really bad idea. Be very careful when you see a female moose too. You're a don't-care to them, but not to the male that's watching that female right on the other side of the bush from you.

  • 1
    Windshields break into little cubes, not into shards, but +1 for the rest. Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 12:48
  • "It's really not smart to piss off something that's big and dumb." - just brilliant. Like all of it. Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 5:55
  • Seems mainly to behave just like ourselves in relation to, say, ants, right? Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 6:01

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