Yesterday I took the shuttle into the park, but I had no idea that the most “exciting” thing that would happen was waiting for me back at camp.
I stayed at the Riley Creek campground near the entrance of the park. After spending nine hours away, I knew the dogs would be eager to get out of the car. I had a long one hour walk planned for them which would have been a treat since they have been getting shorter than usual walks on this trip.
We were following park rules and staying within the paved areas of the campground and not wandering. After about 10 or 15 minutes, I heard a rustling to my left and before I knew it we were face-to-face with a charging cow moose. I stumbled backwards but thought she seriously wouldn’t continue once she realized we were no harm to her. For a split second I thought about grabbing my camera which was around my neck. To my surprise she didn’t stop. I tugged on Kinley and Aker’s leashes as we continued to stumble backwards into the bushes, but finally realized they were not budging. I hated to do it, but I dropped their leashes and hoped they would find a safe spot. I knew there was no sense trying to save them if it meant I would be injured (or worse yet killed). I tried desperately to get behind a very small stand of trees in hopes I would be somewhat protected. I heard Kinley let out a growl and then there was nothing which made me think she had got him.
When it was over, I was flat on my back behind the trees and Kinley and Aker were about two to three feet away all tangled in brush. All three of us were scared to death. I untangled them quickly because she was still standing close by watching. It was then I realized she had a calf. Once I freed the dogs, we put as much distance between the cow and calf and us.
Left red circle was where I ended up. Right red circle was where the dogs were tangled. Blue circle was where the moose ended up. It was tight quarters.
I immediately went to the camp Mercantile (fancy name for a convenience store) and attempted to catch my breath. That’s when I met Pete and Sharon. They were quite amazing and offered to walk the three us back to our camp. I’m usually not afraid of wildlife (even though I’m very careful around them), but I was so shook up.
We left camp to drive around, eat dinner, and just hang out for a while. When we returned late, I shot some photos of the cow moose. She was still hanging around the campground. (Later a park ranger told me they often hang out in the campgrounds because there is less of a chance that a bear will get their calves.)
Even this morning, I wouldn’t walk the dogs around our campsite. We drove to the Mercantile, where there are large open areas, and I walked them there.
This has been an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life, but also one I wish never would have happened.
Kinley, Aker, and I were so lucky. Kinley was already a timid dog and is a bit more skittish since the “incident”. Aker seems fine, although he too is a bit jumpy. I have a three inch scrape on my ribs and several scrapes on my hands (all from bushes…not the moose). Overall I could not be happy with the outcome.
Moose Safety Tips
Growing up in Alaska, my parents always taught us animal safety. Here are a few things I remember them “hammering” into us:
- Always give the animals the right away.
- NEVER…EVER walk between a cow and a calf.
- If something does happen, safe yourself and then your pets. This is hard to think about because my dogs are my “kids”, but I’m glad my parents taught me this growing up because instinct took over yesterday and I did just that.
These are just a few really commonsense tips, but for more go to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (living with wildlife).
I know it’s exciting to get close and snap photos, but moose are MASSIVE animals and they will win every single time.
More about My Trip
To see all posts about my Alaska/Canada Road Trip click here.