What to do during a run-in with a moose

Moose are on the loose and they could be crooked and hungry, says Chris Baldwin from the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources.

'They're more afraid of us than we are of them,' says manager of conservation

Keith Halleran and his daughter Katie, 9, say they were charged by a moose while at a playground near Power's Pond Sunday. (Submitted by Keith Halleran)

A pleasant afternoon walk in Mount Pearl turned harrowing for a man and his young daughter when they were charged by a moose on Sunday.

Keith Halleran and his daughter, Katie, came across a moose while walking their dog on a trail near Power's Pond.

According to Halleran, the moose approached the pair and, when the animal was about five feet away, put its head down and charged.

Keith Halleran took this picture of a moose moments before the animal charged. (Keith Halleran/CBC)

Halleran said he quickly grabbed his daughter and jumped into the woods, out of the way. He said the moose was eventually scared off by his small dog, Jack, a Schnauzer-Shih Tzu mix, who began barking at the moose. 

"When I got home, I was just worried about, 'Did I do the right thing?' I was worried about my daughter and if the moose kept going towards [us], what I would have done."

Halleran said he was surprised by the moose's aggression, because he and his daughter stood back and didn't attempt to approach it.

Lowering head a key warning sign

Accordng to Chris Baldwin, manager of conservation services with the wildlife division in the Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, when that moose lowered its head, it was displaying a key warning sign for aggression.

People who happen upon a moose should also be wary if the animal abruptly stops eating, stares, and starts smacking its lips," he said. 

An angry moose will often draw back its ears, and the hair on its back hump will stand up.

A dog, to them, is a predator.- Chris Baldwin

"Moose generally prefer to leave humans alone," Baldwin said, but right now, they're likely tired and hungry, clomping around in the snow, looking for food.

"Spring or early summer when females have calves, that can also be an especially dangerous time," he said.

Stay back, keep dogs on a leash

Baldwin advises people to make a lot of noise while they walk in the woods, and to keep a safe distance if they do come upon a moose. 

Pets should also be on a leash, he said.

Though Halleran's dog, Jack, wound up chasing the moose away, Baldwin said that outcome is not the norm.

Jack, the Halleran's Shnauzer-Shi Tzu mix, is credited with saving the day. He barked at the moose until it ran away. (Submitted by Keith Halleran)

"A dog, to them, is a predator," he said. "They will react to a dog, they will become aggressive with a dog."

While Baldwin is familiar with a few cases in which people have been hurt by moose, those cases are few and far between.

"They're more afraid of us than we are of them," he said.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show