Nature encounters
Nature encounters

Nature encounters

Here’s a story of a moose encounter that happened Friday May 28 around 7:30 pm. I (Greg) have been jogging the trails, and taking one dog with me on a leash. This time, it was Nicki’s turn. She’s a lead dog, but despite what you have heard about lead dogs not needing to pull much, she’s a big, big puller. Lots of energy. This was getting tiring for me, since holding the leash tightly and getting pulled makes it harder to run. So, once I crossed across private land and first entered the BLM-owned woods (about 2/3 mile from our house), I let Nicki off the leash.

Another 100 yards, and Nicki suddenly ran ahead. I saw a mother and baby moose cross the path, then the mother ran left and the baby ran right. Nicki ran after the baby. Immediately, I heard some sounds that were a little like goats, sort of “mmaaahhh, mmaaaahhhhh.” Another second or two, and I caught up with Nicki. She was just off the trail, and had grabbed the baby moose by the neck and was shaking it. I yelled “no,” and went to grab Nicki by the collar. She backed away, then bit the moose on the haunch. All the time, the baby was calling, “mmaaahhh, mmaaaahhhh” and was looking at me with big brown eyes full of fear. I heard the mother in the woods behind me, but she was (I think) afraid of me, and didn’t come close.

I caught Nicki’s collar and lifter her off the moose. The moose immediately ran away, and I hooked Nicki to the leash again. The baby was gone, though I could hear the mother moving around in the woods behind me. I yelled out an apology to the baby & mother, and we left. Total elapsed time was maybe 15 seconds.

Although the baby almost certainly got some puncture wounds, I did not see any blood or torn skin. I hope infection doesn’t set in, since otherwise there didn’t appear to be any life-threatening injuries. We passed the same spot on the way back, an hour later, and there was no sign of either moose.

Two days earlier, I had seen a mother and adolescent moose about a mile further up the trail. After the incident with the baby, maybe 15 minutes later, I saw at least one of the moose in the same area as the earlier day. So, there were at least three moose out that day. I think the baby was 3-5 weeks old. Not much bigger than one of our dogs (maybe 70 pounds?), it had a full coat of hair. It was standing fairly upright and had substantial legs, versus newborns that are very spindly, and seem to not be standing fully upright.

This was a nature encounter I would rather have not had. It looks like I’ll be keeping dogs on the leash, even when we’re in the deep woods. We did hear report of bear sightings in Chena Lakes, which is at the other end of my run if I do the fully 12-mile loop. Plus, there are wolf signs. Many pheasants, squirrels, and hare. Plenty of distraction, and some associated dangers.

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