Be Aware › Moose
Welcome to Moose Country
Some things you should know about moose
Moose (Alces alces) are the largest member of the deer family found in the state. The only moose subspecies found in Utah are Shiras moose (A. a. shirasi), which are the smallest of the four moose subspecies recognized in North America. Adult female moose are called cows and young moose are called calves. Only male moose — called bulls — have antlers. Adult moose can weigh 800–1,200 pounds, and bulls may stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Moose usually occur singly or in small groups.
Due to their large size, moose can be dangerous when they feel threatened. In some areas of the U.S., wildlife agencies report that more people are injured by moose than bears each year.
Utah is home to between 2,500 and 3,000 moose. They can be found in the mountains of the northern and northeastern portion of the state, including urban areas along the Wasatch Front. They prefer forest habitats, especially those locations with a mixture of wooded areas and open areas near lakes or wetlands. Some make short migrations between summer and winter habitats.
Moose are excellent swimmers — their hair is hollow, which helps them float — and they routinely seek food in marshes and streams. They are herbivores that prefer to feed on aquatic vegetation and new woody growth during the spring and summer. During the winter, when preferred food items are not available, moose switch to a diet of bark and twigs from evergreen and deciduous trees.
Cow with calf
HOW TO PREVENT INCIDENTS WITH MOOSE
Know moose behavior
A moose can run up to 35 miles per hour! They are active both day and night, but peak activity occurs near dawn and dusk. Some things to keep in mind:
- Cows with calves can be aggressive in the spring.
- Bull moose may be especially aggressive during the fall breeding season.
- Do not approach or feed a moose.
- Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times. Moose can be very aggressive around them. It is against Utah law to allow dogs to chase or harass wildlife.
Some physical warning signs that a moose may become aggressive include:
- Lowering their head
- Hair standing up on the neck
- Licking their snout
- Pinning their ears back
If you encounter a moose
- On a trail, give it a lot of space and watch its behavior.
- Back off if it exhibits any signs of aggression, such as the hair standing up on their neck, snout licking, or ears back.
- Stay calm. Do not run away. Talk, make your presence known and slowly back off in the direction you came.
- If it charges you or chases you, hide behind something solid, such as a tree.
- If it knocks you down, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until it retreats.
Slow down! Heed warning signs. In a car vs. moose scenario, neither wins.
If you have an encounter with aggressive wildlife, please alert the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources office near you. If the encounter or sighting occurs after hours or on the weekend, please call your local police department or county sheriff’s office, who can contact a conservation officer to handle the situation.