SANDPOINT, Idaho–People often think of what they might do if they encountered an angry bear out in the wild. Encountering an angry moose, however, might not be a scenario most people prepare for.

 A bull moose can weigh anywhere from 660-1500 lbs. Couple that with antlers that can weigh up to 70 pounds, and a moose’s predisposition to trample perceived threats under its hooves, and that seemingly docile mammal is a force to be reckoned with. That’s one reality a man in North Idaho had to face last week. The encounter ended with the moose being shot.

Idaho Fish and Game is reporting that a backpacker in North Idaho, at the Harrison Lake backcountry camping area, North of Sandpoint, was charged by a bull moose. According to the report, “the moose tore apart the campsite and charged at the camper and his dog.”

The camper tried to hide behind a tree, but the moose kept charging. That’s when the camper had to discharge his firearm at close range and kill the moose. Idaho Fish and Game say the shot was in self defense and the man will not be charged. 

As a precaution, fish and game have closed the Harrison Lake campground to prevent encounters between hikers and bears that might feed on the deceased moose. 

The Department of Fish and Game also mentioned tips for campers and hikers to help avoid encounters with moose and other large wildlife:

  • Bear spray can be a highly effective tool when used against mammals in an unsafe encounter
  • Never allow dogs to chase a moose, which moose can view as a threat. Keep dogs on a leash
  • Make noise when hiking so wildlife won’t be startled.
  • Be aware of your surroundings and don’t hike with headphones or earbuds on.
  • Male moose can become very agitated during the mating season in the fall
  • In early spring, food is scarce and wildlife is very stressed.
  • Never put yourself between a cow calf and a moose. 
  • When encountering a moose, watch for behavior or signs of stress in the animal, including:
    • Laying its ears back
    • Hair on its neck raising

If an encounter with a moose goes bad, Fish and Game say the best course of action is to but a barrier between you and the moose, like a tree or vehicle. 

For more information about the trail opening back up to hikers, please contact the Sandpoint Ranger District Office at 208-263-5111.