They look so docile, but don’t be fooled. “Assume every moose is a serial killer standing in the middle of the trail with a loaded gun,” says Alaska wildlife biologist Jessy Coltrane. They may be cute in a dopey sort of way, but moose are also huge and powerful. Females weigh between 700 and 1,100 pounds and bulls can hit 900 to 1,400 pounds on the scale. Considering their bulk, moose are remarkably fast runners — their top running speed can hit 30 miles per hour.
Moose injure more people in Alaska each year than bears. While some of these injuries stem from collisions with motor vehicles, moose also stomp and kick and these hoof swats can kill. In 1995, a moose stomped to death a 71-year-old man on the University of Alaska-Anchorage campus. What makes moose so statistically dangerous is their numbers. They’re more numerous than grizzly bears and more likely to wander into urban areas.
These large members of the deer family aren’t naturally aggressive, but invading their space, especially if young ones are around, can provoke them. Most attacks happen during spring calving season or the fall rut.
The easiest way to avoid being attacked is to give them space. In other words, don’t do this:
If you see the moose start to lick its lips, it means you look tasty. (Kidding!) However, it does mean that it’s thinking about kicking your scrawny (by comparison, anyway) ass. Also, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says that if you’re close enough to see a moose smacking its lips, you’re too damn close.
If the moose moves toward you, all friendly, don’t be fooled. “A moose that sees you and walks slowly towards you is not trying to be your friend,” the ADFG says. “Back off.”