Woman walking dogs off leash attacked by cow moose protecting two calves in Boulder County

Moose equate dogs with wolves, their predators

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. - Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding the public about the dangers of approaching moose after a woman walking her dogs off leash was injured by a cow moose with calves in Boulder County on Monday.

It was the second time in less than two months that a Colorado resident walking a dog was injured by a cow moose with a calf.

"Moose do not differentiate dogs from wolves -- their natural predator -- and will instinctively attempt to stomp them in self-defense," CPW spokeswoman Jennifer Church said in a news release. "If the dog runs back to its owner for safety, it can bring an angry, thousand-pound moose with it, putting people at risk as well."

The Monday incident happened about 4:15 p.m. as a 55-year old woman was hiking with her dogs off leash on the Middle St. Vrain Trail above Camp Dick near Peaceful Valley in Boulder County, Church said.

The hiker encountered a moose with two calves and her dogs ran toward them. When the woman moved toward the moose to round up her dogs, she was struck by the adult moose, knocked to the ground and kicked, Churchill said.

The injured woman was taken to Longmont United Hospital and later released.

"I've spoken with the victim in this unfortunate incident and we certainly hope she is feeling better soon," said Larry Rogstad, Area Wildlife Manager for Boulder.  "It's important that all recreationists know there is always the potential to encounter moose, as well as bears, elk, and lions in the back country and along Front Range trails. Keeping dogs on a leash and keeping your distance from wildlife is essential for the health and safety of all involved."

Wildlife officers searched the area Monday night and Tuesday afternoon, but could not locate the moose. 

Late spring is calving season and cow moose will aggressively protect their young through the summer, Churchill said. Wildlife officials advise that people watch all wildlife from a distance with binoculars or a spotting scope.

"With their large size and their habit of standing quietly in wet meadows, moose may appear to be calm and passive animals," Church said. But if people and their dogs come too close, a moose can quickly charge and aggressively defend their space, she added. 

Rogstad said, "That extra step taken to get that great photo of a moose can result in a tragic outcome for the person and the moose.  Please stay back and enjoy wildlife from a distance -- that's what telephoto lenses are for, and when large animals are encountered on the trail please stay back and let them move off."

In early June, a 60-year-old woman was injured by a cow moose near Grand Lake.

The woman was walking her dog along County Road 4721 and got as close as 10 feet to the cow and its calf before the moose charged and knocked her to ground, state wildlife officials said. The injured woman was hospitalized.

In that incident, wildlife officials said they euthanized the cow and calf in an abundance of caution for human health and safety.

For more information about living with wildlife, go to www.bit.ly/livingwithwildlife.

For more information about how to safely enjoy moose, visit www.bit.ly/watchingmoose.

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