A dog-sitter thought a moose she saw earlier in the day in a Colorado yard was gone.
When she thought the coast was clear of a moose and its two calves, the 79-year-old woman took the dog outside the Glenwood Springs home on a leash. Then the moose attacked her, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said.
“When the woman no longer saw the moose in the area later that evening and believed it to be safe, she took the dog out on a leash in the yard,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said in a Wednesday news release. “That is when the attack occurred.”
A neighbor saw the moose repeatedly stomping on the woman, wildlife officials said.
The woman, who officials did not name, had severe injuries from last week’s attack. She was taken to the hospital in a helicopter.
“This incident was no fault of her own,” Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita said in the news release. “Conflicts with moose can happen, even when you follow best practices for living in moose habitat.”
The moose was likely trying to protect its calves, wildlife officials said. People in the area saw the moose and calves wandering the neighborhood before the attack.
Neighbors have spotted several other moose in the same area, which could make it difficult to locate the moose that attacked the woman. Wildlife officials called off the search for the moose until they have new information.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife knows of at least 15 moose conflicts since 2013 where people have been injured. Dogs were involved in almost all of those conflicts, wildlife officials said.
“When people, dogs and a defensive moose interact there is a significant risk of serious injuries to humans and pets,” wildlife officials said. “In addition, because CPW officers will act to protect the public in any wildlife conflict, it could lead to the death of a moose.”
Moose are massive animals, weighing between 800 and 1,200 pounds. They can stand up to 6 feet tall, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. They are “extremely curious” and want to check everything out.
If a moose starts getting aggressive, it could have laid-back ears, hair on its neck raised and start licking its snout, wildlife officials said. Hikers should keep pets away and avoid animals that are acting abnormally.
“If a moose displays aggressive behavior or begins to charge, run as fast as you can and try to put a large object between you such as a boulder, car or tree,” wildlife officials said. “While moose encounters with people are quite common, moose cause few problems.”