September 24, 2019

Moose Attack People More than Wolves and Bears Combined?

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I have to say this is a first. Yesterday, I read a good article about moose and moose hunting, that included some history and a bit of behavioral perspective on this large critter. As part of the picture the author was attempting to create of the moose, he began by stating that moose are not usually an “aggressive” animal but can be “provoked” or “frightened” to behave that way. I’ll have to agree with that and here’s an example:

A friend of mine who goes to deer hunting camp with me every year, one day was hunting when he came upon a young bull moose standing in the middle of a swampy area. It happened to be standing where my friend wanted to walk. He began messing with the moose putting his rifle over his head and pretending to have a rack of antlers and making other odd movements.

Consequently, the moose moved on and disappeared over a ridge at the edge of the swamp. The hunter proceeded on his way when all of a sudden he heard a loud crash. Turning, the same moose was approaching him from behind with what one would not jokingly call “aggressive” behavior.

But what was also contained in this article was a continuation of that aggressive behavior disclaimer that read: “In terms of raw numbers, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined, but usually with only minor consequences.”

That has to be a first for me. I’ve never heard, read, or anything else anything resembling serious discussion that moose attack more people than bears and wolves combined. Even with “minor consequences” we almost never hear anything about anyone being “attacked” by a moose. Wolves and bear for certain, but not moose. I’m curious where this author got his information.

I began doing some research to see what I could find to disprove or substantiate this claim. As much as I find Wikipedia to be an unreliable resource (I might use it as a starting point while researching), I ended up on Wikipedia looking for information about moose attacks on people. It appears this author copy and pasted word for word what was written in Wikipedia about aggressive moose behavior. Wiki’s words are: “Moose are not usually aggressive towards humans, but can be provoked or frightened to behave with aggression. In terms of raw numbers, they attack more people than bears and wolves combined, but usually with only minor consequences.” (More than these sentences can be found copied word for word in this article. However, because Wiki is an open source resource, it is possible the author was the one who contributed this information to Wiki.)

As with a lot of what Wiki writes, none of this is substantiated with resources to support this claim. A little read searching and we know that in Alaska, there are three times more moose than bears. Moose number approximately 175,000, bears (grizzly and black) number about 130,000, and there are around 11,000 wolves in Alaska.

When you examine the demographics of each animal, it might make sense that there are more moose attacks, especially when you consider that people attempt to approach a moose for photo taking and other stupid reasons. But I will have to seriously question the reporting of “attacks” by moose, bears, and wolves on people globally.

It is a bit dishonest to copy and paste information that is not substantiated (and spending a fair amount of time on this subject I could not come close to proving this claim). The claim is so broad it is impossible to prove. It might have been better to simply state that moose can become aggressive and perhaps offer some sensible tips on how not to piss off a moose.

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