Moose Safety When Hiking With Kids

What should you do if you are in the Rocky Mountains with your kids and you see a Moose?

That can be both an exciting and scary moment for a parent out in the mountains.  It is always exciting to see some big mammals in the wild, but it is also a little bit scary because that is a wild animal and you are not sure what the animal will do.

In the Rocky Mountains, moose live in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana.  They can be seen not only up in the mountains and National Parks, but sometimes may even be spotted wandering through a town or in backyards.  They are big animals and it is important to be careful around them and know what to do if you encounter one.

The good news is that a Moose will not eat you because it is an herbivore.  However, that does not mean that it will not charge at you or try to hurt you if it feels threatened.

Female moose with babies

Female cow with babies

What to do if you see a Moose?

First, get your kids next to you and then point out the moose to them.  Keep your kids next to you while you are near it.

Give the moose plenty of space.  As long as you are outside of it’s personal space it will probably leave you alone.  So, give it as much space as you can, up to 50 feet or more.

Of course, never get between a moose and its calf.  As a parent you should know the protective instincts of a parent for its baby.  If you see a moose that is not charging you, observe it for awhile to make sure that there are no calves nearby.  If you see none, then you can pass it as long as you give it lots of space.  If you see some, then make sure to give them plenty of space.

Do not do anything that could cause the moose to feel that it is cornered.  A cornered animal may feel threatened and decide to charge you.

Keep any dogs under control.

Male moose with antlers

A male moose with large antlers.

What to do if a Moose Charges You?

Moose can run fast, up to 35 mph, so you are not going to be able to outrun one.  Instead you should run away and try to get behind something solid such as a tree, boulder, or thick bush.  You can run around something faster than it can.  If you have time, you can even try to climb a tree.  The important thing is to get something between the two of you to protect you.

If the moose catches up to you and knocks you down try to curl up into a ball and protect your head and the back your neck.  It may kick you or stomp on you, but once it sees that you are not a threat it will leave you alone.  Stay on the ground, not moving, until it leaves the area.

When May Moose Be More Aggressive?

They may be more aggressive and ready to charge for a variety of reasons, such as:

  • When they are very hungry;
  • If there has been a lot of deep snow and they are tired from walking in it;
  • During the rut – September to October during the mating season;
  • Mother with young calves; or
  • If it is being harassed by people or dogs.