Moose are large, majestic creatures that can be a magical encounter in the wild. With their enormous antlers, long legs, and gentle eyes, it can be tempting to get close to these monstrous mammals. However, there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do when encountering them.
If a moose approaches you, you may be tempted to yell at it to try to scare it away. However, there are several reasons not to yell at a moose. Yelling at a moose will alert them to your position, startle them, and it may seem like a threat to the moose, especially during calving or mating season.
Below we’ll go over all the reasons why you shouldn’t yell at these not-so-gentle giants. We’ll also talk about what you should do if a moose approaches you.
Why You Shouldn’t Yell At A Moose
If yelling can scare off coyotes and bears, why not a moose? Yelling is a great tactic against most wild animals. It works by first alerting the animal you are there, and also making them think twice about approaching you.
But moose are not like other animals…
They have few predators. Full-grown healthy moose have practically no predators according to the University of Michigan. Wolves and bears occasionally prey on calves or sick/elderly moose.
A lack of predators makes moose pretty brave around anything and everything, including you! So, yelling is not a tactic you want to do to scare off these massive mammals.
Let’s check out why:
Yelling Can Alert A Moose To Your Location
You can find moose in a few places in the United States including Alaska, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the northeastern states. These animals are huge, weighing up to 1,400 pounds according to the Adirondack Ecological Center.
If you happen to stumble across one of these giants, the last thing you want to do is alert it to your position. This can frighten or startle the moose, putting it in a less-than-agreeable state.
The best way to react to a moose encounter is to let them leave the area on their own. It’s also a good idea to find a tree, fence, or car that you can stand behind to put between you and the moose.
Yelling Can Startle A Moose
Bull moose can be found out on the prowl especially in September and October during the mating season. If you run into a bull during these months, they can be especially alert and aggressive.
Even outside of these months, yelling can startle moose that are hungry, tired, or agitated. A loud noise like yelling can add stress to an already-stressed moose, making it more unpredictable and likely to charge.
Yelling Can Appear As A Threat To A Moose
Like we mentioned before, moose have little to no predators. Very few animals are willing to even attempt approaching or attacking a moose.
If you decide to scare a moose off by yelling, it could misinterpret your intentions and see you as a threat. And you do not want to appear as a threat to a 1,000-pound animal!
How Do You Scare Off A Moose?
So, we know yelling isn’t the best option to scare off a moose. How exactly can you get these giant creatures to cross the road a little faster or get off the trail and out of your way?
The truth is, you should not try to scare a moose off. If it’s in your path, crossing the road, or in your yard, the best thing to do is to leave it alone. Moose will eventually move away on their own.
Moose aren’t intimidated by loud noises or humans, and they especially dislike dogs. A barking dog is more likely to get attacked by a moose than to scare a moose off.
Although scare tactics don’t work on moose, there are ways to repel them from your personal property. If you’re having problems with moose in your yard and garden, check out our article How to Keep Moose Out of Your Garden and Yard (10 Easy Tips).
What To Do If A Moose Approaches You?
It can certainly be a thrill to see a moose while out hiking. However, when these seven-foot-tall giants start to approach you, it can quickly turn from thrilling to frightening.
There are a few reasons why a moose might be coming your way. It may just be on its way to its destination, or it could be something much more serious: A mother walking with her calf.
A mama moose is very protective of her young! If a moose is approaching you, be sure you are not between it and its calf. Similar to a bear, getting between the mom and baby is one of the worst situations you can be in.
Moose may also approach you if they are used to humans such as in a park or suburban neighborhood. If the moose are being fed, they’ll want to continue being fed. Can you blame them? Free food!
However, this creates a situation where the moose becomes dependent on the food source. And if the moose stops being fed, well, wouldn’t you be a little upset?
If you are approached by a moose, there are a few things you should do:
- Give the moose an out: Make sure you are not accidentally cornering the moose against a rockface or heavy shrubbery. Allow the moose to get away on its own.
- Find something to get behind: A fence, a car, a big tree. Although most moose charges are bluffs, some are the real deal and you’ll want to have something between you and a charging moose.
- Keep your dog leashed: Moose seem to dislike dogs. If you live in moose territory, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game suggests always keeping your dog on a leash. If you let it out in the backyard, make sure your yard is moose-free first.
- Use mace as a last resort: If a moose is doing more than just approaching, but charging you, you might need to resort to something like this Personal Security Products Maximum Strength Bear Spray. Bear mace will usually scare a moose off.
- If attacked, play dead: If you get into a situation where you are being attacked by a moose, your best option is to cover your head and body as best you can and play dead. When the moose no longer finds you a threat, they’ll likely leave you alone.
Wrapping It Up!
Whether you live in moose territory and are used to these giants, or you’re on a trip seeing one for the first time, it can be an exciting experience.
Moose are typically not aggressive, and they’ll usually trundle away on their own so that you can continue your hike or scenic drive. However, moose are wild animals and unpredictable.
If a moose approaches you, or you happen to see one in the wild, you shouldn’t yell to try to scare it off. Moose aren’t intimidated by yelling, and yelling can make the situation worse.
Instead, if you see one of these majestic creatures, it’s best to simply leave it be and enjoy the view (from a safe distance!)
Bowyer, T., Rachlow, J. L., Stewart, K. M., & Ballenberghe, V. (2011). Vocalizations by Alaskan moose: female incitation of male aggression. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology, 65, 2251-2260. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00265-011-1234-y
Laurian, C., Dussault, C., Ouellet, J.-P., Courtois, R., Poulin, M., & Breton, L. (2010, December 13). The behavior of Moose Relative to a Road Network. Journal of Wildlife Management, 72(7), 1550-1557. https://wildlife.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.2193/2008-063
Silverberg, J. K., Pekins, P. J., & Robertson, R. A. (2003). Moose responses to wildlife viewing and traffic stimuli. Alces, 39, 153-160.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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