A Colorado hiker who was walking with her dog encountered a defensive cow moose that charged at her, prompting wildlife officials to warn hikers to be wary of the animals.
The incident occurred on June 30 at Crags Trail in Teller County, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The woman told wildlife officials that she encountered the moose about 45 minutes up the trail.
The woman said her dog was running off-leash when the moose “charged from the brush” and began chasing it. The moose was with her calf at the time, the release said.
The hiker yelled at the moose, and the animal turned and charged her, she told wildlife officials. She tried to run from the animal, but fell and broke her arm, the release said.
The moose and calf eventually wandered away, and the woman and her dog were able to get back to their car.
Wildlife officials said the incident is a good reminder to be cautious of moose and other animals on trails, especially ones that are with their young and are trying to protect them.
“We know Colorado residents love their dogs,” Tim Kroening, CPW’s Area Wildlife Manager for the Pikes Peak region, said in the release. “But to keep them safe, we urge people not to take their dogs into wildlife habitat during fawning and calving season and never let them off-leash.”
Kroening added that such confrontations can also happen with bears, deer, and other wildlife, and that many animals perceive dogs as a predator that could harm them or their young.
There have been several other instances of conflict between people and moose on Colorado trails recently, the release said. In at least two of them, moose exhibited defensive behavior over their calves, and hikers were injured as a result.
In one instance, a woman who encountered a moose about 5 feet from her turned to run from it. She fell down and felt the moose stomp on the back of her head, the release said.
Officials also posted signs around Crags Trail urging people to avoid the area and be cautious of moose, the release said.
The best thing hikers can do is leave wildlife alone — especially young animals, who need to grow and thrive in their natural habitats without the influence of people, Kroening said. People should avoid touching, feeding or approaching wild animals to minimize the risk of harm.
Coloradans can find more wildlife guidance on the agency’s website.