COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — Don’t mess with a moose that wants to be left alone.
A North Idaho man found that out when he tried to coax the critter out of his barn, and ended up getting knocked down and trampled, as reported by our news partner, Coeur d'Alene Press.
He saved himself by firing his gun into the air.
“This moose did not appear to be afraid of me at all,” the man said according to a Fish and Game release.
“I could tell it was getting agitated when it lowered its ears to the back of its head,” he said.
The man did not want his name published.
Idaho Fish and Game received a phone call on Dec. 8 reporting a moose encounter on property outside Coeur d’Alene.
The man’s stepdaughter went into their barn to gather hay for their horse and saw the moose eating hay, “noticeably unafraid of her.”
It charged and forced her to run out of the barn.
The man arrived and made several attempts to get the moose to leave, but it refused. As he continued to try to get the moose to move on, it turned, charged, and rammed into the man’s chest, knocking him to the ground.
“While the man was on the ground, the moose attempted to trample him,” wrote T.J. Ross, Fish and Game Panhandle Regional communications manager.
In an effort to stop the attack, the man repeatedly fired his sidearm near the moose.
“None of the shots were aimed at or hit the moose,” Ross wrote. “After the shots were fired, the moose eventually left the barn unharmed.”
The man wasn't hurt, either.
Ross said a moose meandering around town isn't unusual in North Idaho.
“During the winter months, it’s not uncommon for moose to grace town residents with their presence as they move to lower elevations to avoid deep winter snow, take advantage of milder weather and gorge on tasty treats in the form of expensive landscaping or agricultural feed,” he wrote.
A cow moose and her calf began hanging around Coeur d’Alene in late October and stayed well into early December, often near the Coeur d’Alene Public Golf Course. They received a lot of attention, which generated calls and pictures to The Press.
Some worried a child might get too close and get harmed.
“My concern is that if some children come on that huge moose they could be in serious danger as she will protect her baby,” one wrote to The Press on Dec. 2.
Ross said the mom and baby appear to have finally left the area, as he hadn't heard more reports of their wanderings for a few weeks.
He said it was good they did, as it was close to the point Fish and Game might have to do something about it.
“Relocation is sometimes an option, but moving a moose to new habitat during winter puts the animal at high risk of malnutrition and being eaten by predators,” he wrote.
Relocation also requires the use of powerful drugs to sedate the animal, and it poses significant risk to both the animal and Fish and Game people, Ross wrote.
Moose may appear friendly and cute, but like most big game animals, they're “wild and highly unpredictable” and should never be approached, Fish and Game said.
Lowered or flattened ears is a sign of agitation and aggression in moose and nearly all other wild animals. If that happens, quickly move on, Ross said.
Ross previously said Fish and Game’s preference is to leave a moose in town alone and let it find its way back to the wilderness.
“However, a moose that acts aggressively toward people may have to be relocated or killed to protect public safety,” he wrote.
Feeding moose is also a bad idea. It may start with good intentions but leads to problems, even the death of the moose.
“Fish and Game staff have confirmed that residents in the area where the encounter occurred have been feeding wild game, including the moose,” Ross wrote.
He said moose that have been fed are known to lose their fear of humans, “which can create extremely dangerous situations, such as the one that happened on Dec. 8."
Coeur d'Alene Press is a KREM 2 news partner. For more from our news partner, click here.