COAL CREEK CANYON, CO – A man in his late 50s was reportedly attacked by a moose while walking his dogs Monday morning in Coal Creek Canyon. Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has initiated an investigation into the incident, highlighting the need for awareness and caution among hikers and dog owners.
The man was walking his two off-leash dogs near Hummingbird Lane, alongside Coal Creek when he inadvertently startled a cow moose and her calf at a hairpin turn in the trail. The moose reacted defensively, charging at the man, knocking him down, and stomping on him several times. The man managed to fire two shots into the ground, successfully hazing the moose and her calf away without causing them harm, as stated in a press release by CPW.
Suffering non-life-threatening injuries, the man was subsequently transported to a nearby hospital, while his dogs were unharmed. Despite a thorough search, CPW officers were unable to locate the moose and calf in Coal Creek Canyon.
During the late spring and early summer, cow moose can exhibit heightened aggression due to the birth of their calves, which typically occurs from the end of May to mid-June. The protective instincts can trigger defensive behavior, particularly towards dogs, which are perceived as threats or predators.
Colorado’s moose population is robust, with an estimated 3,000 individuals residing statewide. CPW has urged hikers to maintain a safe distance from these magnificent creatures, especially in the lush, riparian areas where moose often forage and rest.
Lessons Learned and Safety Tips
This incident serves as an important reminder of the precautions required while sharing our environment with wildlife. The following safety tips should be considered when hiking or walking dogs in areas where moose are common:
- Always keep dogs leashed, especially while hiking. Moose perceive dogs as potential threats, which can provoke defensive aggression.
- Give moose plenty of space on trails, avoiding close encounters.
- Stay clear of thick willow habitats in riparian areas. These are common places for moose to feed and rest, increasing the likelihood of an unintended encounter.
- Be vigilant during late spring and early summer when cow moose are particularly protective of their newborn calves.
- Carry noise-making devices or deterrents for use in case of unexpected wildlife encounters.
For further information on coexisting with moose in Colorado, refer to CPW’s guide on Living with Wildlife: Moose.
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