Only four days after the Alaska Department of Fish and Game issued a warning to residents of Alaska’s largest city to be on the look out for aggressively protective mother moose, an Eagle River woman is reported to be in the intensive-care unit of an Alaska hospital after being moose stomped.
Fish and Game spokesman Ken Marsh confirmed the stomping, but had no details.
“Anchorage’s Greg Beck said his sister was walking her two dogs when the moose apparently attacked,” the Chugiak-Eagle River Star reported. “He didn’t know much about what happened, but said the attack was bad enough to put her in the intensive care unit with ‘a bunch of broken ribs and lacerations.'”
Eagle River is a popular suburb just north of the state’s largest city, a bustling urban area much like any other in the U.S. with the exception of the unique dangers posed by sizeable populations of moose and bears.
The former have proven more deadly than the latter, though the city has seen several bear maulings. But moose have killed more people in recent years. A gruesome attack outside a building at the University of Alaska Anchorage in 1995 was caught on film. The attack left 71-year-old Myung Chin Ra dead and attracted widespread publicity.
Video of the deadly episode later popped up on YouTube, showing Ra trying to fend off the moose. Wildlife experts say that the thing to do if attacked by a moose is to curl up into a ball, cover your head as best you can, and play dead.
Mother moose attack not to kill but to try to neutralize what they fear to be a threat to their young. The safest way to stay out of danger is to avoid moose with calves.
“Cow moose can be particularly dangerous during calving season, the Anchorage area Wildlife Biologist Dave Battle warned in the Thursday press release from Fish and Game, “and attacks on people and pets by mothers aggressively defending calves are reported each spring.”
“Give them plenty of space,” Battle said. “Try to avoid single track (trails) and narrow, brushy trails where limited visibility might lead to a run-in with a cow moose and calf.”
The press release focused heavily on “bicyclists and runners (who) should be especially alert as they can swiftly top hills or round corners and run into moose.” The state agency has recently been in consultation with the Municipality of Anchorage with concerns about the design of new bike and hiking trails in local parks.
The bears, at least, tend to keep the wilder areas of Anchorage. Moose can be found everywhere, and they are a potential threat to inattentive homeowners simply walking out of the house without looking or dog walkers paying less than full attention.
“Making noise to alert wildlife to your presence is always a good precaution, but may not be enough to avoid clashes with moose cows with calves,” Battle noted. “Newborn calves aren’t able to run from pets or people on bicycles. Mothers are likely to stand their ground, even when they hear you coming.”
Most moose calves in the Anchorage area are born in a short period of time a week or two the other side of May 15. Some might now be only days old. As a general rule, the younger the calves the more protective the mother, although some cow moose stay aggressively belligerent for months after calves are born.
The Eaglewood Homeowners Association is advising residents there to be especially alert.
“I respectfully ask that you avoid our trails where moose and bear are being a nuisance. Both were spotted today. Another moose attack with injuries this evening resulting in a trip to the hospital in an ambulance,” a post on the Association’s Facebook page said.
“Kids were throwing rocks at the moose earlier this afternoon and she is lashing out. Please speak to your children about what to do if they encounter wildlife.”
The post appeared above a photo of Anchorage medical personnel loading the injured woman onto a stretcher.