I have said in many articles before; Alaska is a very unique place. Growing up in Michigan there really wasn’t much to be afraid of out in the “wild”. Of course I was terrified of snakes and bees, but for the most part we never had to worry about big and/or predatory animals growing up. Our biggest threat while we were outside were stray dogs.
Alaska is different. We had a church picnic on Sunday night at our local park in the city of Fairbanks. Some men were over playing horseshoes, the kids were running around and playing on the play set and I was under the pavilion with other people. Out of the blue, one of the men yells, “There’s a moose!”. We all turned to look and I immediately jumped up with my phone to get some pictures and a video. Head over to my instagram to see the video I captured of the moose charging.
I walked towards the playset to let the kids know because they didn’t hear the announcement and they were closer to the moose than the men and the pavilion.
The moose started heading in our direction and all of a sudden his head went down, his ears went back and that was our time to run to the playset to get up high. He took off bolting right between the playset and horseshoes and was heading start for the pavilion. We yelled at the people in the pavilion to watch out and they were able to back up before the moose came through.
All this to say; Moose Safety is very important in Alaska. We teach our kids the signs of when a moose is going to charge and we teach them what to do if it does. It is a very real threat and it can happen when you least expect it, like when you are playing at a city park.
Unlike bears, running from a charging moose won't trigger predatory instincts. If you can run and get outside of the moose’s personal space or for example run to somewhere safer like the playground equipment, the moose will probably decide to leave you alone because it no longer sees you as a close threat.
Moose meander when they walk, which makes many people believe they are slow animals. This is simply not true. Moose can have the speed of 30+ mph, so you're not going to win a footrace with them. But if a moose charges you, run for cover like behind a tree. One of the ladies was right in the path of the moose running. She did not have time to run for cover, so she simply stood behind the tree and the moose ran right past her, she could have reached out and touched it as it ran by.
If a moose does charge you and knocks you down, curl into a ball and stay still, protecting your head with your hands. The moose might kick you and stomp you before it decides you're no longer a threat and moves away. Don't get up until the moose leaves you alone and moves off; if it remains close by and agitated, it might interpret your movement as a renewed threat and charge and kick you again. They don’t want to kill you, they just see you as a threat. So the best form of action if you get knocked down is do not move! Play dead until the moose is far away and no longer in sight.
The most dangerous moose is a mama moose. Never get between a mother moose and her calves.
Moose generally aren’t afraid of humans and will pretty much leave you alone unless they feel you are a threat. The moose that charged towards us at the park did so basically because it wanted to go in the direction we were in. So it communicated, “Get out of my way”. Once it passed the pavilion and crossed the road, he went back to a slow meandering walk.
Things to pay attention to is if the hair on the moose’s back along the shoulders stands up, their ears go back (like a horse's), and they have lowered their head. A moose moving toward you isn't a good sign; move away from it and seek cover if you can. Moose are very temperamental and extremely unpredictable. We thought he was going to cross the street on the other side, and last minute he veered and darted right through the playground.
Always be aware of your surroundings and never let our guard down, even while at the park. In Alaska a moose can pretty much be anywhere.
I am a 30 something year old wife and mother of two. I have a 13 year old son and an 12 year old daughter. They are keeping me busy and on my toes in this new phase I call "Teenagedom".
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