Are Moose Dangerous? From Car Accidents to Defending their Territory

Written by Jennifer Gaeng
Published: February 11, 2022
Image Credit Michael Liggett/Shutterstock.com
Share this post on:

Moose are the largest deer in the world and a surprisingly large species. In fact, the largest Alaskan moose ever measured 7 feet 7 inches at its shoulders, which is as tall as the tallest ever NBA players! With moose being such a large species, you might be wondering whether or not they’re dangerous. While moose might live to the north of most of the U.S. population, if you’re driving through an area with moose, hitting a moose while driving could prove fatal. In addition, you may want to know how to behave if you find a moose nearby. Let’s dive in deeper to answer whether moose are dangerous or not!

Are Moose Dangerous?

Moose Size Comparison - Moose in Field
Moose injure more people than bears in northern locations and can be quite dangerous.

Michael Liggett/Shutterstock.com

The short answer to this is yes, moose are dangerous. However, when threatened, moose will normally run. It is under specific situations, they might become aggressive. Moose are less aggressive than most other wild animals of their stature. However, each year, moose injure more people than bears in northern locations. Keep reading to learn more about how dangerous the moose really is and what to do should you ever encounter one.

Are Moose Friendly Or Aggressive?

What do moose eat
Bull moose (Alces alces) feeds on fall foliage (Dwarf Birch) in the Denali Nat’l Park, Alaska.

iStock.com/RONSAN4D

Moose are usually not dangerous, although they can become aggressive if they are harassed by humans, domesticated pets, or traffic. They can also become temperamental when hungry or tired, especially during the winter when they must travel through deep snow. For their own safety, people should never approach moose too closely.

Do Moose Bite?

What do moose eat
What do moose eat

iStock.com/RichardSeeley

Moose are tough opponents, with pointed hooves capable of powerful kicks. Yet they, too, have predators. Moose have many teeth, including incisors, molars, and premolars. The top jaw is toothless, whereas the lower jaw possesses eight incisors. Biting, holding, and pulling tree branches and barks are all done using incisors.

A single bite from a huge and powerful moose can easily defeat an approaching predator. A bite from a fully grown Moose could certainly result in an infection that could deter, or even kill the victim.

Are Moose Territorial?

Tallest Animals: Alaskan Moose
Moose are powerful swimmers. A moose can dive 20 feet underwater and stay underwater for up to 30 seconds!

Steve Bower/Shutterstock.com

Moose are territorial animals that will charge at you if they believe you are a threat. It’s never a clever idea to approach a moose. Moose are smart animals who have less fear in their natural habitat, making them more tolerant of disturbance.

Do Moose Attack Humans?

Moose Size Comparison - Moose vs Human
Moose are generally significantly taller than humans at their shoulders.

Moose, unlike smaller deer, aren’t normally terrified of humans, so they won’t flee just because you’re around. While moose are normally not aggressive towards humans, they can be dangerous, and even deadly, if provoked.

It’s important to note that most moose attacks occur in specific periods. During September and October, moose enter mating season, and in early spring calves are born which makes mothers more protective. During these seasons, the number of aggressive encounters with moose jumps.

Moose Compared to Cars: How Deadly Are Moose Motor Accidents

With moose being so large, a common question is how deadly are accidents where moose are hit by cars. A commonly cited statistic from the Alaska Department of Transportation says the odds of being killed by a moose in a car accident are 1 in 200,000.

That statistic incorporates the fact most cars don’t strike a moose. If you do strike a moose, the odds of a fatal accident are about half a percent. In Maine, there were 7,062 collisions with moose between 2003 and 2017, which resulted in 26 fatalities. That equates to a .37% chance of a fatality when hitting a moose. In Alaska, about .5% of accidents result in fatalities.

The bottom line is that a collision with a moose is more than 10 times as dangerous as hitting a deer in a car. So, moose collisions are dangerous. Yet, the vast majority of accidents involving a moose still don’t lead to death.

What To Do If You Encounter A Moose In The Wild

Moose Size Comparison - Tall Moose

MarkMark/Shutterstock.com

Never, ever, get too close to a moose! If you get too close to a moose, remain cool and take a step back. Allow the moose to have their own space. Make certain that no animal, such as a dog, disturbs the Moose. Never get in the way of a mother moose and her calves. Do not scream, hurl objects, or even offer food. Because they can’t see far, moose are easily startled. This makes them unpredictable. A moose is an extremely sensitive animal, making it highly prone to becoming enraged.

How To Tell If A Moose Is About To Attack

A scared or distressed moose may exhibit several warning signs. For example, they may put their ears back, smack their lips, flash their teeth, toss their heads up in the air like a horse, or even urinate. It can be quite intimidating.

An attack by an angry moose can be brutal as they can trample you under their massive hooves and body weight of 1200 lbs (or more)!

Antler-to-antler combat is common among moose in the wild when they push each other to the limit until one of them realizes the other is stronger. If it is able, the smaller moose will flee.

How Do You Stop A Moose Attack?

If a moose is attacking, curl up in a ball with your head protected, while trying to remain still. The moose may retaliate if you stir or try to get up before it has moved a safe distance away.

Because moose are faster than humans, you will not be able to outrun one. As a result, you’ll need to find shelter as soon as possible. Try to hide behind a tree, a vehicle, or something else sturdy.

Are Moose The Deadliest Animal?

Hippos are the most dangerous large mammals on the Earth. Most aren’t as dangerous, but there do cause a number of fatalities each year. In North America, moose injure more humans than bears and wolves combined. This is mainly because of how humans have conditioned them to expect food.

When a moose who is used to being fed by people wants food and isn’t getting it, they can become upset. This can turn a seemingly harmless and cute situation extremely dangerous, quickly. Therefore it is important to never approach or feed a moose!

Are Elk More Aggressive Than Moose?

Moose are larger and a lot more aggressive than elk. Yet, if left alone, they’re typically docile.

Is A Moose Stronger Than A Bull?

Both animals have similar weight ranges, but the bull is more muscular, and its horns much deadlier. The bull is also more agile and speedier. The moose is taller, although this is not a significant advantage.

Can A Moose Fight A Bear?

Strongest animal bite – Grizzly bear
Grizzly bears feast on everything from salmon and trout to large animals such as moose and elk.

Even though moose and bears are mostly equal in height and weight, bears are more dominating animals since they are omnivores. Some bears even hunt moose. If they fought, a bear would most certainly win. Generally, however, bears stick to juvenile or wounded moose. Hunting down a full-grown moose is difficult for a brown bear.

Share this post on:
About the Author

A substantial part of my life has been spent as a writer and artist, with great respect to observing nature with an analytical and metaphysical eye. Upon close investigation, the natural world exposes truths far beyond the obvious. For me, the source of all that we are is embodied in our planet; and the process of writing and creating art around this topic is an attempt to communicate its wonders.