Do Moose Attack Humans or Are They Friendly Animals?

Moose are the largest member of the deer family. In fact, moose are so large that they can weigh over 1600 pounds and stand as high as 7 feet tall. With antlers spreading as wide as 70 inches, they are one of the most intimidating prey species in the world.

Alongside their size, moose also stand out due to their high population. In Alaska, they outnumber bears 3 to 1, which makes moose encounters in the Northern regions of the country very common. This begs the question of just how dangerous a moose is to humans.

Although they are peaceful animals, moose can be dangerous to humans. While moose often flee from danger, they may defend themselves from humans and other predators when provoked or threatened.

Like most prey, a moose’s primary instinct is to avoid confrontation with any predatory species. Despite their intimidating size, they possess a very passive demeanor and the regularity of moose encounters with humans is more down to the sheer number of them rather than a willingness to enter human invaded areas. However, moose attacks still occur more regularly than bear attacks in Alaska.

Why Do Moose Attack Humans?

There are lots of reasons why a moose may attack a person.

Studies show that dogs cause a lot of moose attacks. Moose hate dogs mainly due to their close resemblance to wolves and a dog accompanying a human will typically bark at the sight of a moose and may even run up to it, provoking the moose to flee in some cases, and to attack in others.

Also, despite their instinct to flee from danger, male adult moose are relatively unafraid of humans compared to other deer species. Hence, they might not always flee just because you’re there. For someone with no outdoor experience, you could be tempted to approach them due to their horse-like demeanor. Feeding or petting moose is illegal in Alaska because they might interpret an approach from you as a threat to their safety which could result in an attack.

Moose are also notoriously temperamental when hungry, particularly during the winter season when they travel long distances in search of adequate food and shelter. Their temper could also be heightened in cases where they have a calf close by as it’s the instinct of all animals to protect their young.

Finally, bulls (male moose) are easily agitated during full mating season. This is usually around September and October just before winter. This is because their natural temper is bolstered by increased testosterone levels which kick in while searching for a mate.

Where You Might Encounter a Moose

Moose reside mostly in forested areas around streams or ponds. These places are perfect spots for recreational activities like camping and hiking which are the most common sources of moose sightings.

Also, moose tend to wander onto highways in search of food and sometimes while trying to escape predators. Moose sightings are quite common on highways and they contribute to about 500 road accidents every year in Alaska. According to Alaskan Animal Care and Control, if a moose is blocking your path on the highway, you are to take one of three options:

  • Find a way to drive around it without harming it
  • Blow a horn or shine a headlight at it if it’s dark
  • Patiently wait for it to naturally move out of the way

On occasions, moose are found deep into human civilization in places such as parks or near public dumpsters. This is because of the food usually leftover in these places.

How to Tell a Moose is About to Attack

When moose are agitated or distressed, they generally all display a similar body language. Recognizing these signs can help you avoid an attack and potentially prevent injury.

Before a Moose charges at a human or predator, the hair on its back becomes raised. It will also pull back its ears and may throw its head back and forth like a horse while chomping its lips and teeth. A moose may also lower its head before attacking, pointing its antlers in your direction.

According to animal experts, any change to a moose’s behavior while it’s eating could mean a potential attack. So if a moose stops feeding and stares in your direction, it’s a sign to back away from it.

How to Survive a Moose Attack

In the event you get attacked by a moose, knowing how to react could be life-saving. It is important to remember that a moose only attacks if it feels agitated by your presence, showing the moose that you aren’t a threat is key to surviving an attack.

If you encounter a moose and it becomes aggressive towards you, here are some things you can do to dissolve the situation:

1. Run

The majority of the time, a moose’s first charge at you is a “bluff charge”. This is a warning for you to back away from its space. If you run in the opposite direction, they may no longer perceive you as a threat and leave you alone.

Sometimes, a moose might feel so agitated that it skips the bluff charge and attacks your first time. While it’s important to run, it’s equally important to find cover out of the moose’s sight. Moose are faster than humans so you can’t outrun them, you need to hide behind a tree, fence, or in a vehicle where it can’t see you. If you are out of its sight, then you’re most likely out of its mind.

2. Curl up into a ball

If you can’t find cover or outrun the moose quickly enough, then it might knock you over. In this case, roll up into a ball and cover your head with your hands. A moose might kick out at you a few times, this position protects your head and organs.

While you’re on the floor, do not fight back, attacking the moose will only aggravate the situation and could lead to serious injury. Staying motionless shows the moose that you’re no longer a threat and it could see your lack of movement as a chance to escape itself.

3. Remain on the ground

Usually, after a moose kicks you a few times, it will stop and hastily walk away. However, it will remain cautious of you and might attack again with more aggression if you begin to move too soon. Wait till the moose is far enough away to get up and make sure you walk in the opposite direction.


Due to the large moose population in the northern parts of the country, moose encounters are often unavoidable — especially for people who love the outdoors. While moose are passive creatures, they may sometimes attack people in defense of themselves or their young.

For people who often go hiking or camping in moose country, it’s important to learn some preventive measures as well as techniques to survive a potential encounter.