Moose are the largest members of the deer family as well as the tallest land mammals in North America. Except for coastal areas, they can be found throughout B.C. in many habitats including wetlands, forests and willow thickets.

As herbivores, moose feed upon a wide variety of vegetation including the twigs, buds and leaves of shrubs and trees, as well as terrestrial and aquatic plants. Typically an animal of true wilderness, moose may move into urban settings to feed on backyard vegetation in times of scarce natural food or winter months.

Attacks on humans by moose are rare, but can occur, especially when a female is protecting her offspring. Vehicle collisions are also a major safety concern associated with moose.

To reduce the potential for conflict with any wildlife, it is important to understand a bit about the life history and habits of the species. Read on to learn more about moose and how to prevent human-moose conflicts where we live, work, play and grow.

Information on this page includes:

  1. Moose Biology
  2. Deterrents
  3. Attractant Management
  4. Moose Safety
  5. Reducing conflict where we live
  6. Reducing conflict where we work
  7. Reducing conflict where we play
  8. Reducing conflict where we grow

Biology and Identification

* Adult male moose, called bulls, can weigh between 400-600 kilograms and grow to a height of over 2 meters at the shoulder. Females, called cows, tend to be smaller, ranging in weight from 300-500 kilograms.
* Moose are herbivores and feed on a wide variety of vegetation in the summer including the twigs and leaves of red-osier dogwood, willow, cottonwood, fir and paper birch. Woody shrubs and aquatic plants are also important summer foods.
* In winter, when food is restricted to mostly twigs and bark, moose may lose up to one quarter of their body weight. Moose pack on extra weight in the fall to survive this annual loss.
* Moose are distinguished from others in the deer family by their size, prominent shoulder hump, bulbous nose and a characteristic flap of skin called a “bell” or “dewlap” below the chin.
* Male moose grow massive palmate (palm-shaped) antlers that can grow to a width of 1.8 metres. These antlers are shed every year between late December and early January.
* Bulls use their antlers for both display and fighting in order to assert dominance and to secure breeding privileges with the cows.
* Normally solitary, bulls and cows come together during the breeding season or “rut” between September and October. Both sexes become vocal during this time as they actively seek a mate. Moose may also ‘yard-up’ in groups during times of deep snow and benefit from the group effect of the snow being trampled down.
* Cow moose give birth to one or two calves in May or June. In years when food is plentiful, the rate of twins increases.
* Moose calves mature quickly and can reach a weight of 100 kilograms in six months.
* Moose are surprisingly strong swimmers and can even submerge themselves completely to feed on aquatic plants.
* Long legs and large cloven hooves help moose to travel through deep snow and soft mud.
* Moose have keen senses of hearing and smell.
* Moose may live up to 20 years in the wild, but the average lifespan ranges between 10-15 years.

Reducing Conflict Where We live

In winter, when food is restricted to mostly twigs and bark, moose may lose up to one quarter of their body weight. In these times of scarce natural food, moose may move into urban settings to feed on backyard vegetation. Due to their sheer size and strength, moose can be dangerous and must always be given a wide berth.

Please read on to learn more about preventing conflicts with moose and share the following with your neighbours:

Attractant Management

* Do not feed moose. Feeding can lead to an artificial concentration of moose in town and elevates the chance of vehicle collisions and other conflicts.

* Certain plants are more likely to attract moose (red-osier dogwood, red maple, willows). If moose frequent your neighbourhood, consider choosing less attractive plants when landscaping.

Deterrents

* Motion activated lights and sprinklers, if used randomly, help to dissuade moose from using your yard.
* High fencing or electric fencing may help keep moose away from your yard and garden. Likewise, chicken wire caging may help protect individual trees and shrubs from moose damage.
* Clearing areas of thick brush from your property will improve sightlines and reduce the shelter that moose need to feel comfortable.

Moose Safety

* Never approach a moose. Give the animals a wide berth and ensure they always have an escape route.
* Female moose with calves need extra space. Moose cows are very protective of their young and may attack if they perceive a threat. If you come across a cow and calf, calmly leave the area immediately.
* Be aware of moose body language. A threatened moose may lower its head and flatten its ears before charging. If you see these behaviours, find an escape route.
* If a moose does charge you, getting inside a nearby building or car is the safest option, but hiding behind a large tree or other solid object may effectively block the charge.
* Dogs and moose don’t mix. A moose can seriously injure or kill a dog if it feels threatened. Likewise, loose dogs can harass moose, causing undue stress. Never let your dog out if there is a moose in your yard.
* Drive cautiously, scanning for moose along roadsides, especially between dusk and dawn to avoid collisions.

Reducing Conflict Where We Work

People who work in the wilderness and rural areas of BC need to understand what animals they are likely to come across and what precautions need to be taken to ensure that these encounters are safe for both the worker and the wildlife.

* Familiarize yourself with the types of habitat in which you are more likely to encounter moose (ie: willow thickets, swampy areas and wetlands) and be alert and cautious when working in these areas. Keep an eye out for signs of recent moose activity such as freshly chewed browse, scat and tracks.
* Making noise or talking to your coworkers while in the wilderness is the best way to warn wildlife of your approach. Taking care not to startle or surprise wildlife will greatly reduce the potential for dangerous encounters.
* Never approach a moose. Give the animals a wide berth and ensure they always have an escape route.
* Female moose with calves need extra space. Moose cows are very protective of their young and may attack if they perceive a threat. If you come across a cow and calf, calmly leave the area immediately.
* Be aware of moose body language. A threatened moose may lower its head and flatten its ears before charging. If you see these behaviours, find an escape route.
* If a moose does charge you, getting inside a nearby building or car is the safest option, but hiding behind a large tree or other solid object may effectively block the charge.
* Dogs and moose don’t mix. A moose can seriously injure or kill a dog if it feels threatened. Likewise, loose dogs can harass moose, causing undue stress. Dogs should be kept on a leash in moose country to avoid aggravating an attack.
* Drive cautiously, scanning for moose along roadsides, especially between dusk and dawn to avoid collisions.

Reducing Conflict Where We Play

Recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing often bring humans into moose country. Understanding where you are most likely to run into moose and knowing what to do in the case of an encounter will help prevent conflicts.

* Making noise or talking to your hiking partners while in the wilderness is the best way to warn wildlife of your approach. Taking care not to startle or surprise wildlife will greatly reduce the potential for dangerous encounters.
* Never approach a moose. Give the animals a wide berth and ensure they always have an escape route.
* Female moose with calves need extra space. Moose cows are very protective of their young and if they perceive a threat, may attack. If you come across a cow and calf, calmly leave the area immediately.
* Be aware of moose body language. A threatened moose may lower its head and flatten its ears before charging. If you see these behaviours, find an escape route.
* If a moose does charge you, getting inside a nearby building or car is the safest option, but hiding behind a large tree or other solid object may effectively block the charge.
* Dogs and moose don’t mix. A moose can seriously injure or kill a dog if it feels threatened. Likewise, loose dogs can harass moose, causing undue stress. Keeping dogs on leash when hiking in moose country can reduce the risk of a dangerous encounter.
* Drive cautiously, scanning for moose along roadsides, especially between dusk and dawn to avoid collisions.

Reducing Conflict Where We Grow

Moose may be attracted to certain food crops and also to livestock feed. Once moose find food on your property they can become habituated, losing their natural fear of humans and increasing the chance of conflict. As such, care should be taken to prevent moose from becoming comfortable on your property.

* Moose can be attracted to livestock feed, including hay. Ensure that feeding areas are appropriately fenced and that livestock feed is stored securely.
* Motion activated lights and sprinklers, if used randomly, help to dissuade moose from your yard, gardens and crops.
* High fencing or electric fencing may help keep moose away from your yard, garden and crops. Likewise, chicken wire caging may help protect individual trees and shrubs from moose damage.
* Clearing areas of thick brush from your property will improve sightlines and reduce the shelter that moose need to feel comfortable.

Call the Conservation Officer Reporting line to report any moose acting aggressively (1.877.952.7277)