Don Newman of Nashwaulk, Minnesota was checking on some trap lines near Ely last month when he experienced a moose attack that left him with minor injuries. The trapper admitted that it could have been much worse if he did not bring along a nine-month-old silver lab that was on loan from a friend, which distracted the moose as it began to pummel Newman with its hooves. The dog likely instigated the attack when it began barking at the cow moose, but Newman forgave the pet.
“The dog saved my butt,” he told the Duluth News Tribune.
Newman said he first saw the cow moose and its calf come out of the trees at a distance of 30 yards. Moose can react violently to the presence of dogs, especially mothers with calves. It did not take much more than a few warning barks from the dog to set the large animal off. Newman’s first reaction was to run to his truck, which was about 30 yards from where he was checking his traps. He had hoped to get inside the vehicle before the moose reached him, but the snowshoes he was wearing made it all but impossible.
The moose knocked Newman over into deep snow and began to stomp on him with its heavy hooves—Newman said he counted about seven blows. Finally, the dog managed to distract the attacking animal and lead it off.
Thankfully, bruises and strained ligaments were the extent of Newman’s injuries. He even managed to continue checking the rest of his traps before returning home. Although his arm was in a sling, Newman said that none of the injuries seem to be permanent.
“It’s an unfortunate circumstance,” he said. “We just happened to meet face to face.”
Newman adds that he does not blame the moose, which was just being protective of its calf. According to experts, the trapper behaved appropriately to a moose attack by curling up and protecting his head as much as possible. Moose attacks are rare, but the temperamental animals can be aggressive if approached. Moose will signal an attack by stomping their feet or laying their ears back against their head. Wildlife experts say the best thing to do when approached by an aggressive moose is to simply run. Moose lack predatory instincts and will not chase for far. When unable to escape, trying looking for a tree or another object to hide behind. In a worst-case scenario, experts advise curling up into a ball and shielding your head.