Moose defending calf attacks woman, dogs near Missoula

2013-05-25T06:55:00Z 2013-05-25T23:56:08Z Moose defending calf attacks woman, dogs near MissoulaBy GWEN FLORIO Missoulian The Billings Gazette
May 25, 2013 6:55 am  • 

MISSOULA — A moose that kicked a woman trying to save her dogs on Blue Mountain on Thursday night will not be put down, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Friday.

The moose was simply trying to protect her calf when the dogs attacked – and the woman was also trying to protect the moose by getting the dogs away from it, said FWP Sgt. Joe Jaquith.

The incident serves as a good reminder for people walking their dogs in wild areas this time of year, when animals are having their young, and are very protective as a result, Jaquith said. It’s best to either keep dogs leashed or under very close control, he said.

The woman, who was not named, was walking four or five dogs between 5 and 5:30 p.m. off the motorcycle trail on Blue Mountain near Missoula, he said.

“They stumbled into a moose cow and calf ... and the dogs got after the moose. She tried to wade in and get the dogs and ended up getting knocked down and kicked by the moose,” Jaquith said.

The woman was treated at a hospital, he said. “We’re glad she’s going to be all right,” he said.

The moose and her calf also appeared to be unharmed, he said. FWP workers went back to the area Thursday evening to check on them, and found the calf nursing.

“We got within 30 feet, cautiously, just to check. She showed no signs of aggression,” he said.

Both the moose and the dogs were doing what they normally do in such situations, he said.

“It’s a natural predator-prey relationship between moose and canines. But moose can be particularly nasty when defending their calves. A moose cow is perfectly capable of killing a dog,” Jaquith said.

Typically, a wild animal that attacks a person is killed. But in a situation like this one, “we can’t put an animal down in good conscience,” he said.

People on Blue Mountain are likely to encounter all manner of animals, he said – “a sow (bear) with cubs, elk, deer. ... Anytime somebody’s recreating in a national forest, they need to be a little bit heads-up,” he said.

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