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Turkey hunter attacked by female moose with calves near Blackfoot

| May 30, 2024 1:00 AM

Late afternoon Friday, May 24, a turkey hunter was attacked by a female moose on a section of Bureau of Land Management land bordering the Snake River downstream of Wadsworth Island, a few miles south of Blackfoot city limits. 

The individual was hunting turkeys when he inadvertently startled a female moose with her twin calves. The moose began to charge, and though he fired two warning shots at the ground in front of her, she was not deterred. As the moose knocked him to the ground, he was able to fire a third shot, which made contact with the animal. The moose ran off, and the hunter was able to leave the area safely. He reported to Idaho Fish and Game that he is “bruised up” and will seek medical attention if his injuries appear to be more serious.

As he left the area, the individual noted that at one point he could see the injured moose a few hundred yards away, bedded down. She stood up and began grazing while her calves nursed. The full extent of her injuries is not known at this time.

Idaho Fish and Game will be placing signs near boat ramps on the river in the vicinity of the encounter, cautioning the public to be aware of a moose with calves and to maintain a safe distance if the animals are spotted.   

Though conflicts with moose are usually rare, moose can be defensive and dangerous if startled. This is particularly true during the fall when bulls are rutting and in the spring when females have calves.

This encounter serves as an important reminder to all outdoor enthusiasts to be aware of your surroundings, especially when recreating in thick vegetation or near rushing water where moose and their young can be harder to see and hear.

What to do if you encounter a moose?

• Keep your distance, at least three car lengths between you and the animal. Never approach a moose, especially a female with her young.

• If recreating with dogs, maintain control of your pets with leashes and don’t allow them to chase moose or other wildlife. 

• A moose will often bluff by pawing the ground and licking its lips. If it lowers its ears, a charge is likely forthcoming!

• If a moose charges, run. Try to keep a tree or other object between you and the moose, or climb a tree if necessary.

• If you have bear spray, use it!  Bear spray can be purchased online or at most sporting goods stores. It is important to keep it readily accessible on your body.

• If you find yourself on the ground, curl in a ball and do your best to protect your face and head. Try not to make noise. Moose charge because they perceive you as a threat. If you are curled up on the ground quietly, you will likely appear less threatening.

If you have any questions about recreating around wildlife or if you have a wildlife encounter to report, call your nearest Fish and Game regional office. In the Southeast Region, contact Fish and Game in Pocatello at 208-232-4703. 

— Idaho Department of Fish and Game