Steamboat man trampled by moose; CPW offers tips for avoiding these conflicts
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A Steamboat Springs man got more than he bargained for during a nighttime walk Tuesday when a moose trampled him to the ground at Steamboat Resort.
Leon Steinberg, who lives in a townhome near the resort, was walking with his dog around 8:30 p.m. along the Right-O-Way, a cat-track near the base of the mountain. He often takes walks in the area, particularly during the recent days of self-isolation amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It was a moonless, overcast night, Steinberg remembers. He brought a flashlight with him but had temporarily turned it off to enjoy the tranquil darkness. His dog, a poodle, had run off, but Steinberg did not think much of it.
Suddenly, something heavy struck him and knocked him to the ground. He fell face first but managed to break his fall with his hands.
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“I thought it was a person, a jogger maybe. That was my first thought,” Steinberg said.
Still sprawled on the ground, dazed, he began to feel hooves stomping against his back.
“That’s when I realized it was a moose on top of me,” Steinberg said.
He screamed. The noise must have spooked the moose, which ran off and stopped about 15 feet away. Steinberg rose to his knees and turned on his flashlight. He could just make out the dark shape of the animal, which stood motionless.
His poodle approached, but Steinberg said the dog is accustomed to moose and did not bother the animal. The two stared at the moose, which stared back at them. Then they walked home.
- Signs of moose aggression include laid-back ears, raised hairs on the neck and licking of the snout.
- Avoid animals that are behaving belligerently or abnormally.
- Keep pets away, as moose can get quite aggressive around them. Be especially cautious when walking dogs.
- If a moose displays aggressive behavior or begins to charge, run as fast as you can and try to put a large object between you such as a boulder, car or tree
Source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Steinberg’s wife, a doctor, evaluated her husband. Luckily, his injuries were minor, consisting of a few hoof-shaped bruises on his back.
“Other than being sore and having moose hoof marks on my jacket, I am unscathed,” Steinberg said.
Looking back on the incident, Steinberg believes his dog startled the moose, which caused it to run down the trail.
“I bet the moose didn’t even see me and knocked me over,” he said.
Moose have notoriously bad vision and cannot see things far away.
Steinberg is accustomed to encountering moose and other local wildlife and knows to give them a wide berth. He worked as a ski instructor this winter before the resort closed earlier in the month due to the coronavirus outbreak. He has come across moose dozens of times, on and off the resort, but he typically is able to see them ahead of time.
His lesson, Steinberg said, is to be more cognizant of his surroundings, particularly at night.
“If I had my flashlight out or headlight on, this would not have happened,” he said.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife describe moose as “aggressive and territorial.” Dogs often trigger aggressive behavior, reminding moose of wolves, one of their primary predators.
Since 2013, at least 15 moose conflicts have occurred in the state, resulting in minor to serious human injuries, according to CPW. In all but two of those incidents, dogs sparked the moose’s aggression.
To prevent conflicts with moose, CPW advises people to keep dogs on leashes and to keep far away from the animals. If people encounter a moose, they should move slowly and avoid looking directly at the animal. They should move further away if the moose shows signs of aggressions, such as raising the hair on its neck, licking its snout, cocking its head or rolling its eyes and ears back.
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