On Thursday, May 26, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials received a report of a female injured in an attack by a cow moose while running on the Campion Trail, Breckenridge, CO, around 9:15 am. The victim received minor injuries and was able to hike out and drive herself home, where she called CPW Wildlife Officers to report the incident.
“The runner was focused on the trail and looking down at her feet. When she looked up, she saw the moose, which immediately charged her and eventually trampled her.”
– CPW District Wildlife Jacob Kay
The runner reported seeing a newborn calf as she was leaving the area. Given the details of the report, Kay says this incident is likely a cow protecting her newborn calf.
For the safety of the public and wildlife, a trail closure for the Campion Trail (Forest Service Trail #9021) has been put in place through Wednesday, June 1. CPW wildlife officers will continue to assess the area over the weekend and are hopeful the trail will reopen next week.
This incident is a good reminder for people to give moose plenty of space when recreating outdoors. Moose are more likely to live in areas located near water with an abundance of willows, which is their primary food source. While these are often beautiful places to recreate, the thick vegetation often makes it difficult to see what’s around the corner. Hikers should choose routes with good visibility and be extra cautious, while also making noise when in close proximity to willows and thick habitat. This is especially important when hiking with dogs.
Although this was an unexpected encounter with a moose and its calf, it’s important to remember that several wildlife species are having young this time of year. It is important to keep extra distance from all wildlife, especially when they have young present.
If you encounter a moose, give it space and time to move. Do not attempt to haze the moose out of the way. Not only is it dangerous, but this is also considered harassment and illegal. If a moose has laid-back ears, pawing the ground, licks its snout, or changes its direction to face you, you’re too close and need to back away.
While the runner did not have dogs with her, District Wildlife Officer Kay says this is also a good time to remind people to keep dogs on leash and be well distanced from these animals at all times.
“Moose react to dogs the same way they would react to a predator in the wild, which typically means standing their ground and acting defensive.”
– Jacob Kay
Like this incident, we know conflicts with moose can happen, even when you follow best practices for living in moose habitat. Please report any moose conflicts to your local CPW office location.
To learn more about living with moose, please visit the CPW website.