Leaves are turning and temperatures are dropping in North America’s mountains. For moose, that means one thing: rutting season. This annual mating ritual is a sight to behold but requires treating the giant creatures with extra respect. Don’t do it and you could die. Here’s where to go and what NOT to do when you find moose in rut.
Where to Find Moose in Rut
Bull moose are usually spotted near watering holes. Rivers and lakes provide nourishment and protection for all moose but especially females and their calves. When the annual mating dance begins, bulls know where to go for mating opportunities. Common rut season rituals you’re sure to see include:
- Warm up games of gentle antler sparring between bulls
- Bulls digging pits to scent mark their enormous bodies with urine-soaked muck.
- Cows guarding, splashing and dousing themselves in the urine sludge.
- Violent clashes between the strongest males that often end in brutal injuries and death.
- The ongoing mating soundtrack of low frequency croaks and moans that carry up to a mile away.
Here’s a good example of the moose rut season.
When You Find Moose in Rut, Here’s What NOT to do.
Many unsuspecting moose watchers assume these giant, slow moving creatures are friendly toward humans. They are NOT. If moose feel threatened, all bets are off.
When you find a moose in rut, DO NOT:
- Get close to feed, pet or take a selfie. Experts at the Colorado Division of Wildlife advise keeping at least 25 feet away, preferably more.
- Watch with your dog. Moose will run and stomp leashed or unleashed dogs without warning because of their close resemblance to wolves, the moose’s only predator.
- Walk in front of the moose. If a moose crosses your path, get to your destination some other way. Slowly back off with your palms facing outward. Speak softly in light tones to demonstrate you mean no harm.
- Attempt to drive past the moose. The Washington Department of Wildlife says that if you meet a moose in rut while driving, “ . . . yield to the moose. It may be trying to rest or save energy, and if you try to move it, your motor vehicle could come under attack.”
Signs that Moose Attack is Imminent
Moose give obvious warning signs before they attack. Moose will let you know they’re ready to rumble with signs like:
- Grunting and foot stomping
- Flat ears with head flinging
- Curling lips back and baring teeth
- Walking toward you
When this happens, be ready for an attack. Moose will often bluff a charge but could follow through. Hurry and get a large object like a tree between you and the moose. If the moose charges around the object, drop and curl up into a ball to protect your vital organs, head and neck.
RVing allows you to roam far and wide to watch amazing animal rituals like the annual moose rut. Follow these common-sense wildlife viewing tips and you’ll be around to enjoy next season’s rut too.
Rene Agredano and her husband, Jim Nelson, became full-time RVers in 2007 and have been touring the country ever since. In her blog, Rene chronicles the ins and outs of the full-timing life and brings readers along to meet the fascinating people and amazing places they visit on the road. Her road trip adventures are chronicled in her blog at LiveWorkDream.com.
Nikki Clevenger says
Thank you so much! It was a great article.
Anne Linn says
I used to live in Vermont part time. There the question was: “What is the most dangerous animal in America?” Answer: “A moose in rut!!”
One quick correction – 25 yards (not feet) is the official minimum distance.