In a video courtesy of the Instagram page Tourons of Yellowstone, we get to witness a woman trying to pet a wild bull moose and her husband doing absolutely nothing to stop her. How many times do we have to say it? Leave the wildlife alone.
The video shows a woman inching closer and closer to a moose who’s just eating grass and minding his own business. The woman’s husband is recording the video, which is captioned with, “My wife seriously is trying to pet a wild moose.” She keeps getting closer, leaning this way and that to get a good look at the animal. Then the video ends, so we don’t know if she got close enough to either scare the moose off or get headbutted into next week.
According to the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve in Alaska, more people are actually injured by moose every year than they are by bears. Yet, people are more worried about bears than anything. Not only do moose outnumber bears 3 to 1 in Alaska, but they wound about 5 to 11 people a year in the state alone. Compare that to 2 bear attacks per year across the entire North American continent, according to Popular Science.
So, why do people still think it’s okay to bother moose in National Parks? They are not aggressive by nature, sure, but they will defend themselves if they think there’s a threat. Moose look big and slow but their top speed is 35 mph, similar to a bison. It seems like tourists get the same idea about moose that they have about bison: “they’re just big, lumbering animals and I can definitely jump out of the way fast enough if one comes at me.”
Do Not Try and Pet the Moose, Plus What To Do When Faced With One
According to Wrangell-St. Elias, moose need a lot of room. Give them space! The National Park Service recommends staying 25 yards away from all wildlife and staying aware of your surroundings so you don’t surprise a cow moose or elk with babies. Elk in particular like to hide their young among bushes or in other secluded areas, so it’s best to be cautious when coming around blind corners.
If a moose hasn’t seen you, though, just keep it that way. Don’t try and get the moose’s attention hoping you’ll make eye contact and it will suddenly become your friend. Just observe from afar, and zoom in with your camera instead of your body.
If the moose sees you, starts to approach you, or you find yourself accidentally too close, talk softly and back away. Don’t turn your back or run, but move calmly and cautiously away from the animal. Don’t get aggressive, loud, or hostile. You’re trying to convince it you’re not a threat, and getting excited or scared will only agitate the animal.
Lastly, in the event that a moose is already charging at you, this is the time to run. The NPS suggests finding cover, such as behind a fallen log or a car if you’re near one, or running out of its path. Generally, moose kick with their front legs, but they can kick in all directions similar to a cow. Overall, stay safe, and just leave the moose alone.