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Idaho's Harrison Lake trailhead temporarily closed after moose charged at camper

The camper shot and killed the moose in self-defense.

SANDPOINT, Idaho — A camper at a Harrison Lake backcountry campsite north of Sandpoint shot and killed an aggressive bull moose in self-defense on Tuesday.

The bull reportedly charged at the camper and his dog. The camper hid behind a tree, but the moose did not stop charging. The camper then discharged a firearm at the moose in self-defense from close range. Fish and Game responded to the incident and located the deceased moose.  

The Forest Service said they closed the Harrison Lake trailhead to hikers in order to prevent possible conflicts between hikers and any bears that may feed on the carcass.

The state of Idaho and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game reminded the public to always carry bear spray when hiking or camping.

Here are some tips from the IDFG about safety precautions around moose when hiking or camping.

• Never put yourself between a cow and calf moose.

• During the mating rut in the fall, males can become very agitated.

• In late winter when moose are coming out of a long winter, food is scarce and their fat reserves are depleted. This is a stressful time for moose.

• Do not let dogs chase moose, it is best to keep dogs on a leash.

• When backcountry running or hiking, do not wear ear buds or headphones. Moose and other wildlife will often let out a warning sound before an attack or other aggression.

• Watch the behavior of the moose and look for signs of agitation or stress. If a moose lays its ears back or the hair on its neck raises, that means they are stressed and could charge.

• If a moose is aggressive or charging, try to put something like a tree or vehicle in between yourself and the moose.

For updates on when the trail area opens up, contact the Sandpoint Ranger District office at (208)-263-5111.