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Summit County

Don’t give a moose a muffin

moose in the summer
Jill Molchan
A moose pays a visit to a yard in Park City.

Moose are big animals that have a big fan club in Summit County. Running into one can be both exciting and dangerous.

Utah is home to roughly 3,000 moose. The largest animals in the deer family, they can weigh between 600 and 1,000 pounds, and bulls can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulder.

Most moose spend their time in forested areas and eat aquatic vegetation in the spring and summer and then switch to bark and twigs in the winter. Many neighborhoods in the area regularly see moose dining on trees and bushes.

While it can be a thrill to have a moose encounter, it’s important to understand they can be extremely dangerous, especially if their young are nearby and they feel threatened.

Division of Wildlife Resources Section Chief Covy Jones said, “In my years of working with wildlife I have dealt with bears, rattlesnakes, cougars and moose, and the only species that I’ve had turn and come back at me was a moose.” He went on to say that people underestimate how aggressive moose can be.

In the summer months, generally it’s cow moose who can be more aggressive because they have calves they’re protecting. In the fall, it’s the bull moose who are territorial because they are breeding.

Some physical warning signs that a moose is about to charge are lowering their heads, licking their snouts, pinning their ears back, and hair standing up on their necks.

If you happen upon a moose unexpectedly, don’t try to run – they’re much faster than humans. Instead, slowly back away in the direction you came. If that’s not possible or if a moose charges, hide behind something solid, like a tree. If a moose knocks you down, curl into a ball, protect your head and lie still until the moose retreats.