A moose killed a man in Alaska. Could it happen in Washington?

May 25, 2024, 1:00 PM | Updated: 3:57 pm

Image: In this photo provided by Iditarod rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, a bull moose stands betwe...

In this photo provided by Iditarod rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, a bull moose stands between the snowmobile where she took refuge and her dog team on trails near Fairbanks, Alaska, on Feb. 4, 2022. The moose attacked Watkins' dog team for over an hour, seriously injuring four before a friend shot and killed the moose. (Photo: Bridgett Watkins via AP)

(Photo: Bridgett Watkins via AP)

A 70-year-old Alaska man who was attempting to take photos of two newborn moose calves was attacked and killed by their mother, authorities said Monday, May 20.

The man, killed Sunday, May 19, was identified as Dale Chorman of Homer, Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety, said, according to The Associated Press (AP).

The female moose had recently given birth to the calves in Homer.

“As they were walking through the brush looking for the moose, that’s when the cow moose attacked Dale,” McDaniel said, according to the AP.

The attack happened as the two were running away, he said. The second man, who has not been publicly identified, was uninjured.

That person did not witness the attack, so authorities cannot say if the moose killed Chorman by kicking or stomping him, or a combination.

Medics pronounced Chorman dead at the scene. The cow moose left the area, Alaska State Troopers said in an online post.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game normally receives reports of aggressive or unusual moose behavior, said Cyndi Wardlow, a regional supervisor in the Department of Wildlife Conservation told the AP in a later story about Chorman’s death.

“In this case, we’re obviously very concerned about public safety,” she said. “If there was an animal that was behaving in a way that continued to present a public safety threat, then we could possibly put that animal down but we’re not specifically pursuing that course.”

How many moose are in Washington?

Staci Lehman, the communications manager for Region 1 of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) told MyNorthwest in an email that moose in this state are Shiras moose, which are a little smaller than those located in Alaska.

As of 2015, there were approximately 5,000 moose estimated to live in the state of Washington, the WDFW website states.

It goes on to say “the majority are in the Selkirk Mountains (Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry, and Spokane counties) with smaller populations in the north Cascades, Okanogan, and Blue Mountains.”

Meanwhile, there are up to 200,000 moose in Alaska, a state with a human population of about 737,000, the AP explained.

More U.S. moose news: Wandering bull moose is captured in Santa Fe, moved to habitat in northern New Mexico

Do moose pose a danger to people in Washington?

People and moose generally live in harmony in Washington and other places. In fact, there has been an increased number of sightings of moose entering areas where larger populations of people reside.

“An even greater testimony to the parallel growth of both human and moose populations in Washington is the increased incidence of moose wandering into the suburban and urban areas of Spokane. Moose sometimes take up residency where water and succulent vegetation is more readily available. By 2015, almost daily reports of problem or ‘nuisance’ moose were received by the (WDFW),” the state agency’s website states.

The incident in Homer, Alaska, is just the second fatal moose attack in Alaska in the last three decades with the last coming after students in Anchorage harassed one in 1995, the AP reported. The WDFW stated Moose attacks on humans are considered “very rare.”

“If you encounter a moose in Washington, it’s a really cool thing,” Staci Lehman wrote in her email to MyNorthwest. “We have them in yards and parks and even business parking lots often in the Spokane area but that doesn’t happen in most of the state.”

Animal searches for a snack: Moose feasts on lobby plants in Alaska hospital building

Be cautious: Moose are still considered ‘dangerous wildlife’

But the WDFW website also states it is important to remember that anything as large as a moose can be dangerous; this is why these animals are classified as “Dangerous Wildlife.”

Moose are not normally aggressive, they can become so if they’re provoked, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website.

Also, while the Shiras moose may be a bit smaller, they’re still large animals. as adults measure nearly six feet at the shoulder. The adult male moose (bulls) weigh between 850 and 1,100 pounds and adult females (cows) weigh between 600 and 800 pounds, the WDFW says.

While Lehman may have praised a moose encounter as something cool, she also cautioned what people should do if they discover one while out.

“If you see one in the woods, it is best to give it plenty of space, don’t approach it, and back up and leave the way you came into the area,” she said.

Also, as the WDFW website explains, “moose consider dogs, which are close relatives of wolves, to be a direct threat.”

They’ve been known to go out of their way to kick at a dog, even one on a leash or in a fenced yard. Therefore, those people who do have a dog where they live should bring their dogs inside. In addition, they shouldn’t be loud if they’re out with their owners in the woods.

“If you are hiking with a dog, keep it on a leash and try to keep it quiet,” Lehman said in her email to MyNorthwest.

Colorado incident: Moose charges, headbutts and stomps on woman who was walking her dog on wooded trail

The WDFW also stated that moose can be aggressive at any time of the year, but this time of year — May through June — is when cows give birth to calves and can feel provoked.

“Cow moose with calves are going to be some of the more aggressive moose you’re going to come in contact with, McDaniel told the AP.

For those who see a calf in the area, be extremely careful, because the cow probably is close by.

“Moose can get defensive during the mating season or when a female moose has young with her so the main thing is to give them lots of space,” Lehman said.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, or email him here.

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A moose killed a man in Alaska. Could it happen in Washington?