PARK CITY — A woman was taken to a hospital after a wild encounter with a bull moose at a popular hiking spot Sunday afternoon, state wildlife officials said.
The incident happened about 2:15 p.m. along the Bloods Lake Trail near the Bonanza Flat area southwest of Park City, according to Utah Division of Wildlife Resources officials. They said a family was hiking when their dogs, which were on leashes, apparently startled a bull moose that was laying down.
The bull charged at the woman, causing her to fall and hit her head as it brushed past her. The woman, whose name and age wasn’t immediately released, was taken to Heber Valley Hospital in Heber City. Her condition was not released.
The incident is believed to be due to accidental contact. It’s unclear if the moose was startled because dogs agitated it or because they were playing in nearby brush, said DWR spokesperson Scott Root.
However, he said the incident is a reminder for those hiking in areas where large wild animals call home to be extra cautious. State wildlife officials say that is especially true this time of the year where many people are visiting areas to check out fall colors — but are also where moose can be found.
“I have seen just many different photos that people have posted on social media of the many moose that are in that area,” Root said. “When you have a lot of people and you have a good population of moose, we always worry about that. We ask people to please be careful; keep your eyes open and every little corner you come around.”
Not only are moose plentiful in many of Utah’s hiking spots as fall nears, but the season is also when bull moose begin their annual rut, which is typically when they are most aggressive. Many moose cows are still with their calves, which is usually when they are most aggressive too, Root explained. He also pointed out that not only are moose large but they can outrun any human because they run up to 35 mph.
“Moose always seem pretty docile, so you want to get a photo and you want to get a little bit closer when it’s acting like it’s not a big deal,” he said. “And suddenly, that moose can be right on top of you.”
Root urged anyone who spots moose to be cautious and respectful of the wild creature. State biologists say there are a few warning signs when a moose might become aggressive, which includes that they lower their head, have hair standing up on their neck, start licking their snout or pin their ears back.
Biologists add that people should not approach or feed moose, keep as much distance as possible and back off if it shows signs it could be aggressive. If it does, they advise individuals to stay calm and not run away; instead, people are advised to talk and make their presence known as they slowly back away in the direction they came.
More information about how to recreate safely near moose can be found here.