When it comes to Alaskan wildlife safety, bears usually get the most press. But it's also important to remember the appropriate precautions for you and your kids to take around other animals, including the moose.
Statistically, Alaskan moose are actually more dangerous than bears, as there's a significantly greater number of moose in Alaska. While moose aren't predators, they can attack people when provoked or irritated, and also pose a danger to drivers. Remember that these are massive creatures who can move much more quickly than you expect; they can kick, stomp or charge, trampling you. When it comes toAlaska moose safety for kids, here are nine important tips:
1) Don't approach or impede it
Whether you're on a hike or a moose has meandered onto your property, don't approach it or try petting it. Calmly back away from it and give it a wide berth, and tell your children to do the same. Younger children will need extra monitoring and to be carried away.
If a mother moose is with her calves, especially take care to move away from the vicinity. And never position yourself between the mother and a calf.
Also, don't try even inadvertently to prevent a moose from getting away. For instance, if it got in through a gate in your fence, don't stand at the gate and block its way out of your yard.
2) Don't be a nuisance to it
Kids, and sometimes even adults, might find it amusing to throw things such as snowballs or twigs at a moose. Again, while moose often aren't aggressive, they can get riled up and agitated by this kind of behavior.
3) Don't feed it
Don't toss food at a moose, leave food out at a campsite, or leave your garbage exposed on your property. Moose often like to seek out additional helpings and return to where they initially found food, and they might get quite aggravated when they don't find more of it. In winter, when moose are hungrier than during the rest of the year, they also tend to be more aggressive.
4) Keep your dog away
Moose find dogs to be threats, and the presence of a dog can easily agitate a moose. Not only could they kick out and injure your dog, they might also become aggressive at people in the vicinity. Keep your dog on a tight leash when walking outdoors and restrained or enclosed on your property.
5) Don't assume that a fence always keeps moose out
Stay vigilant even in enclosed areas. Someone may leave a gate open by accident or there may be another entryway you don't know about. Moose can also jump over fences or knock one down if it's flimsy. You can look into getting especially tall and strong fences for your own property, but never rely only on a fence to keep your kids safe.
6) Map out ways to retreat
If you're on your property or in another area with buildings, you and your children will ideally head indoors if you encounter a moose. If a moose is standing between you and the building you need to access (or at your car door), you may have to be patient and wait for it to move. If possible, back away and take a wide path around it; head to some other shelter, such as a neighbor's home. Always try to leave yourself multiple escape routes (e.g. more than one gate through which to leave a playground), and if necessary duck behind a tree as a barrier between you and the moose.
Similarly, if you're hiking, retreat from a moose; this is especially important when it comes to a mother moose and calves, and to a bull moose during the fall mating season, when they're usually more aggressive. Back away and duck behind a large rock or tree if necessary.
If your kids are old enough to walk outdoors on their own, and they walk to school or a friend's house, discuss with them alternate routes they can backtrack to and take if a moose has meandered onto a particular street in your neighborhood. Furthermore, they can be taught not only to remain alert to their surroundings but also to note signs of moose in the vicinity, such as areas where leaves and shrubs appear to be stripped or nibbled on.
Kids should also avoid using solitary, narrow paths where there's little room to retreat or escape if they come upon a moose. Paths that are dark and have heavy shrubbery are especially dangerous; you may wind up surprising a moose (and its calves) or having it surprise you. Wider, well-lit streets with less shrubbery are generally better.
7) Stay connected
Via cell phone or text, parents can alert each other about the presence of moose in the neighborhood. Likewise, you can stay in touch with your kids about it, and have them tell you if they've spotted a moose in the vicinity.
8) Know how to respond to a charge
Moose may charge at people, and usually there are warning signs beforehand. If a moose begins to walk towards you, even at a sedate pace, don't wait for it to come close. If it has stopped whatever it was doing, such as eating, to stare at you, don't hang around. Also, note other warning signs such as head tossing, lip licking, hair sticking up on the back of its neck, ears pressing down against the head, and grunting.
If it does charge, run away as quickly as you can; urge your kids to do the same, and grab and carry or pull along the ones who can't run quickly. Get behind a tree or large rock or duck into some kind of shelter. The good news is that most of the time a moose charges as a bluff; it usually won't go to great lengths to pursue you. But take each charge seriously and get away and sheltered as soon as possible.
What if a moose winds up attacking you? If it knocks you down, immediately curl up into a ball, while trying to protect your head with your arms. Don't move. Even after it stops attacking, wait until it's a safe distance away before moving or getting up.
9) Pay attention on the road
One of the best ways to keep you and your kids safe from a moose is to drive safely. Moose and vehicles collide regularly, and these accidents can result in harm not only to the moose but to vehicle occupants. Slow down, especially on roads that are curved, flanked by woods or shrubs, or otherwise have poor visibility. Be extra vigilant in places known for moose crossings. And if you see one moose, look for others, especially when it may be a mother accompanied by calves
Don't hesitate to contact us for additional advice and to receive assistance if you or a loved one has been injured in a moose-related incident.