Woman attacked by moose is one of 5 this spring, says Fish and Game

Updated: Jun. 15, 2021 at 6:37 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Alaska Department of Fish and Game Biologist Dave Battle calls spring the most dangerous time of the year when it comes to moose encounters. From mid-May through late June, attacks increase as mother moose defend their newborns.

So far this spring, Battle said, five moose attacks have been reported in the Anchorage area, including one that sent a 75-year-old woman to the hospital for four days.

Kathy Newman and her dog Ace were visiting a favorite spot on Sunday, May 23 when the attack happened. Newman had taken her dog swimming in a series of gravel ponds off Portage Glacier Road, in Portage Valley. She had just rounded a small hill when she ran smack into a moose on the other side.

“There was not time to think about any kind of reaction, it just happened,” Newman said. “She body-slammed me and spun me around, and down I went.”

After the moose left her, Newman was able to get up and walk 15 minutes to her car. She called her daughter, who met her in Girdwood, and drove her to an Anchorage hospital.

Newman, who said she had never broken a bone before, ended up with a broken collarbone, several broken ribs and a four-day hospital stay. She never saw a calf, but Battle said it’s likely there was one nearby.

“The mother has a different response to a threat during that time,” he said. “During those few weeks when the calves are very new, she will stand her ground a lot more often, or even move aggressively to meet something she sees as a threat.”

Battle advises people to be very aware of their surroundings in spring and early summer, and definitely be on the lookout for moose. Although attacks can happen anywhere, he said, it’s best to avoid narrow trails or dense vegetation where it may be difficult to see what’s ahead.

If someone is charged by a moose, Battle said, the best advice is to run, or try to hide behind a large object like a tree or a car. If the moose attacks with no time to respond, it’s best to lay on the ground and try to protect your head and neck until the moose leaves.

On Tuesday, a little more than three weeks after the attack, Newman was home and feeling grateful her wounds were not more serious and that her dog had survived without a scratch. She said she doesn’t blame the moose for what happened but was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s something Battle said can happen to anyone.

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