Camper Kills 'Aggressive' Moose After It Destroys Campsite

A camper in Idaho shot and killed an "aggressive" bull moose in self-defense after the animal charged at him, according to officials.

The incident occurred on Tuesday at a backcountry camping area near Harrison Lake in the north of the state, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game said in a press release posted Thursday.

According to the department, the moose tore apart the campsite and charged at the camper and his dog.

The camper hid behind a tree in an attempt to protect himself, but the moose did not stop charging. Then, the camper fired his weapon at the moose from close range in self-defense, killing the animal.

The Forest Service has closed the trailhead of the lake in order to prevent potential conflicts between any bears that may be attracted to the carcass of the moose.

Moose can be found across much of Idaho, as well as in several other U.S. states. Their vast range in North America stretches across most of Canada and Alaska, as well as parts of northern New England, the Great Lakes region and other areas of the northern and western U.S.

The largest moose live in Alaska, where males can weigh up to 1,700 pounds and grow antlers that measure nearly seven feet wide, according to the American Museum of Natural History.

Moose—the largest and heaviest living species in the deer family—do not typically act aggressively towards humans. But they are unpredictable animals and experts say that they can become defensive and dangerous in surprise close encounters with people.

Idaho Fish and Game said the latest incident involving the camper and moose was a "good reminder" to carry bear spray when hiking or backcountry camping.

"Bear spray isn't just for bears and can also be used as a highly effective tool against other mammals if an unsafe wildlife encounter occurs," the department said. "Be prepared when recreating outdoors and know how to use bear spray if necessary. Always give moose a wide berth when you encounter them. Moose, like any wildlife, can become agitated if they feel you are a threat."

Officials urged people in moose country to never allow dogs to chase the animals, given that the canines can be seen as a threat. As a precaution, the department recommends keeping dogs on a leash in these areas.

"When hiking, make noise to announce your presence so you do not surprise a moose, or any wildlife that can be dangerous," Idaho Fish and Game said. "Do not hike or trail run with headphones or earbuds. Most wildlife will give out some kind of warning sounds prior to an attack or aggression. Wearing headphones or earbuds eliminates your extremely valuable sense of hearing."

If you do encounter a moose, officials recommend that you watch the behavior of the animal closely and look out for signs of agitation and stress.

"If a moose lays its ears back or the hair on its neck raises, that means they are stressed and could charge," the department said. "If you see any of these behaviors, the best course of action is to put something between you and the moose as a barrier—like a tree or a vehicle."

There are certain situations in which the risk of a moose charging a person or dog is increased. For example, male moose can become very agitated during the mating rut in the fall. In addition, the animals can be quite stressed during the late winter—when food is scarce and their fat reserves are depleted.

A mother moose may also be more likely to charge at you if you come between her and a calf.

A bull moose
Stock image showing a bull moose. A camper shot and killed a moose in Idaho on Tuesday after the animal charged at him. iStock