When Mrs. Moose Stopped By for a Visit

Of all the things we don't have in Alaska, like snakes, poisonous bugs, skunks, and other not-so-pleasant creatures, we do have a number of big critters like bears and moose that you occasionally have to watch out for. Yesterday, I was just telling my friend who lives in Maryland about how big moose are here. The average adult moose stands taller than 6 feet and can exceed 1,000 lbs in weight. You would think an omnivore with sharp teeth and claws would be a bigger threat, but honestly moose are way scarier to me than bears. I read that there are more moose attacks than black and brown bear attacks each year combined. To be fair, moose in Alaska outnumber the bear population three to one, so you're way more likely to encounter one during your day to day. During the winter, their food supply is more scarce in the summer, consisting of mostly birch twigs and bark. This causes them to wander into more urban areas in search of leftover food in the trash on someone's porch. Mother moose with calves are especially dangerous because of how protective they are of their offspring.


Just hours after sharing a photo and some moose facts with my friend Matthew, I begin pulling into my driveway and am greeted by the big, long face of a young moose. I start honking my horn and slowly pull forward, but it's clear that this is not the moose's first human encounter and it is reluctant in retreating to the other side of the snowbank by my cabin. It's dark by this time, and it's hard to tell if there's a mother moose nearby or maybe another young one just waiting for the annoying honking to stop. I wait for a few minutes before getting out of the car to listen for any potential unwelcome guests. Sure enough, after a little bit of silence I could hear footsteps just on the other side of my outhouse. I hop back in the car and honk the horn for a bit longer. Just then, a larger moose (presumably mom) comes crashing over the snowbank and heads over to my neighbor Jack's house to chew on some birch branches.

At this point, I was pretty sure I would make this into a blog so I roll down the window to at least take some pictures. Unfortunately it was dark and none of them really turned out well, even with the flash on. But with the window down, I was able to hear Jack come roaring down the driveway on his snow machine. Luckily that was enough to spook the moose away. I open the door and get Jack's attention to make sure he's at least aware of the moose and it turns out he didn't even see it. I'm sure it was just waiting beyond the treeline for us to go inside before returning to its grazing, but luckily it was shy enough that I didn't see it again. Now I don't want to make it sound like I was worried for my life; I knew I would probably be able to make it inside, I just didn't want to risk being charged. That's not to say that moose are always easy going creatures that will run off at the slightest of spooks, this mindset will do you more harm than good. The best protocol is to make enough noise the moose knows you're there, be aware of whether there's a mother and calves around, and be respectful of their space.

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