CHETWYND – Conservation officers are warning the public to stay away from a female moose after a Chetwynd man was attacked last week near Mt. Baldy.
The man was walking his dog, on lead, in the back portion of his property Tuesday morning. As he neared the tree line he observed a cow moose, known to be in the area, standing approximately 100–150 feet away.
“With no hesitation the cow charged the individual, who released his dog and commanded it back to home,” Dawson Creek Conservation Officer Brad Lacey said. “The person turned and ran making about 10 feet, when he tripped and fell. The person then scrambled for cover under a pile of poplar trees.”
Lacey said the cow moose was then on top of the man and struck down with her hooves. She soon stopped her contact and walked off looking uphill, then back at the person’s location and subsequently walked off.
“The person believed that the pile of poplar trees undoubtedly provided valuable protection, which without it would have resulted in considerable personal injury,” Lacey said.
The man’s wife advised that she had seen the cow’s calves further up the hill, during the incident, and it appeared that was where the cow travelled.
The victim attended the Chetwynd Hospital where he was examined and treated for deep muscle tissue damage and abrasions to his thigh. He also suffered other minor injuries (bruises/abrasions) as a result of his efforts to get into/under cover within the pile of poplar trees. He was treated and released with a physician’s request to monitor the injury.
“It was determined later, after the incident, that neighborhood dogs had been chasing and harassing the cow moose and two calves for a period of time,” Lacey said. “This activity undoubtedly contributed to the cow moose’s short tolerance of the dog’s presence, even on leash, in this situation.
“Moose are aggressive toward dogs, in general, as a result of fending off wild canines (wolves and coyotes).”
Lacey said moose don’t generalize a dog as either domestic or wild, only by appearance and activity.
“In this case, the dog was on lead and was commanded to go home at the point of interaction,” he said. “The dog obeyed and was safe as a result. The dog would not have benefited the person in this case if it had engaged the cow moose, given the dog’s age (young).”
Lacey said the cow moose likely associated the person with the dog as a threat and reacted in a defensive manner. Although the calves were not seen by the person, it would be reasonable to believe that they were not far from the cow when the incident started.
The Conservation Officer Service would like to remind residents that they must take responsibility for their pets.
“In this case the owner had the dog on lead and it obeyed the commands given to it, all of which resulted in an outcome that could have been much worse,”
Lacey said adding residents that allow their dogs to free range, off their property, can contribute to a situation like this where a person is unaware of a harassing/chasing issue involving neighborhood dogs and moose.
“Inadvertently, the person comes into to contact with the moose, which is already on alert to canine presence given its past encounters of harassment, which results in a defensive reaction,” he continued. “Dogs guarding/protecting their own property is to be expected, however dogs that leave their property to further chase and/or harass wildlife are committing an offense and open their owners to prosecution.”
In the worst case scenarios, dogs found chasing/harassing wildlife may be destroyed, an unfortunate outcome for a pet whose owners would not take responsibility.
The Conservation Officer Service will be following up on this matter to ensure public safety is addressed, as well as the incidence of dogs chasing and harassing wildlife.
The Conservation Officer Service would ask residents to be vigilant when outdoors and to keep their distance from wildlife. Furthermore, to report situations involving dogs unlawfully chasing wildlife or matters involving aggressive behavior by moose to the Report All Poachers and Polluters Hotline 24 hrs. (RAPP) 1-877-952-7277.