Earlier this month, two snowmobiling brothers in Idaho Falls, Idaho dodged the wrath of a half-ton bull moose they encountered on the trail. After a tense stand-off, the moose charged one of the brothers, who narrowly escaped.
In the recent Idaho incident, Josiah Bigelow was snowmobiling with family members on March 2 when he stopped on the trail after getting ahead of the group. He looked back to find a huge male moose wandering between him and the others. Noticing that its ears were back, the hair on its hump was standing, and its head was lowered, Bigelow tried to draw the giant animal’s attention as it started walking toward his brother. Unfortunately, the moose turned and made a sudden full-speed charge.
Bigelow’s brother, Jeremiah, filmed the attack, and the footage was later shared on YouTube by 6ABC. As the moose bears down on him, Josiah quickly turns and attempts to drive away. But his snow machine does not respond. “I hit the throttle on my snowmobile and it just dies,” he told 6ABC. “I look back over my shoulder, and I see this moose charging me, and at that moment I’m just like, ‘Okay, I’m just gonna get outta here.’”
Josiah jumped ship a split-second before the moose steamrolled his sled and flipped the machine into the snow. With the moose upended, Jeremiah and the others sped forward to scare it off.
Perhaps surprisingly, this was one of a handful of recorded incidents in recent years when a moose faced off with snowmobilers. While most of the confrontations ended with the people involved—and the moose—escaping unharmed, it’s not always the case. Below are some of the most intense moose-snowmobile encounters in recent memory.
The Newfoundland Standoff
In this YouTube video, posted just three weeks ago, a Newfoundland snowmobiler finds himself in a standoff with an injured and angry moose who blocks his path for over an hour. At the end of the video, the bull moose attacks, tearing off the snow machine’s windshield and knocking the camera and a helmet out of the man’s hands. Fortunately, both the man and moose eventually go their separate ways with no further damage done.
An Alaskan Stare-down
In this incident filmed in March 2020, a snowmobiler in Alaska motors along as a massive moose trots alongside him for hundreds of yards. As they approach a field, the moose turns and blocks the rider’s access with a long stare-down and a few bluff charges. In the end, the larger mammal yields, and the two part ways.
Head-butted by a Maine Moose
In this video from 2015, the drama intensifies. A rider snowmobiling in Maine with his wife jumps off his sled and uses it as a barrier against a charging moose. The animal sidesteps the vehicle and rushes the man again, giving him a headbutt. The man retreats to his wife’s snow machine. When the wife fires a warning shot with her pistol, the moose finally runs away. Thankfully, neither the humans nor the moose was injured.
Not all moose-on-machine confrontations have ended peacefully. In this video, a moose charges and violently stomps the front of a man’s snowmobile, and its massive hooves narrowly miss the cameraman. The rider, still recording, quickly produces a pistol and aims it at the angry animal in his path. After a warning shot, he pumps four bullets into his attacker, then speeds off, leaving the moose crumpled on the side of the trail.
What to do if a Moose Attacks
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) says that moose will typically flee when threatened. But under certain circumstances, when harassed by people or dogs, for example, they can become aggressive. The warning signs of an imminent attack include lowered ears, raised hump hairs, lip-licking, and a slow ducking walk toward the perceived threat. While most such approaches end with a “bluff” charge, if the warning is not heeded, a moose may follow up with a lethal front-hoof kick and subsequent stomping.
The ADFG advises that people who encounter a moose quietly back away. Seek out a large object—like a tree, snow berm, vehicle, building, or fence—to put between yourself and the animal. If a moose gets between you and your destination, that moose should never be approached. If a moose does knock you down with its initial leap and starts stomping, curl up in a ball, the ADFG says. Then protect your head with your hands and hold still. Don’t move or try to get up until the moose is a safe distance away.
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