'Ran for My Life'—Moose Repeatedly Tramples Sled Dogs in Horrific Hour-Long Attack

A musher has shared the "most horrific past 24 hours of my life," after a moose held her hostage while trampling her sled dogs in an attack lasting almost an hour.

Bridgett Watkins, from Alaska, was out in 5°F weather as she trained for an upcoming Iditarod, a sled dog race. The 38-year-old was out with friend Jen Nelson on a snowmobile when the moose charged.

She recounted the sickening ordeal, which took place on Thursday, on Facebook group Kennel on the Hill, which she runs with husband, Scotty. It was liked 13,000 times.

Watkins wrote: "This has been the most horrific past 24 hours of my life. In short; we were attacked by a very large healthy bull moose on a 52 mile run. As he charged me I emptied my gun into him and he never stopped, I ran for my life and prayed I was fast enough to not be killed in that moment.

"He trampled the team and then turned for us and charged us humans who sought refuge beside our machine. He stopped a mere two feet in front of our snow machine. I was able to cut six dogs free that were on the team connected to the machine.

"But unfortunately he went back to my team attached to my sled and trampled them over and over; repeatedly, for nearly a hour it continued. I have never felt so helpless in my life.

"He would not leave us alone and he even stood over top of the team refusing to retreat. Our friend that lives out on the river was able to finally get to us and kill the animal that dropped just beside the team."

Moose aren't an uncommon sight in Alaska, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stating there are "175,000 to 200,000 moose" throughout the state.

Watkins spoke to Outdoor Life, explaining she'd seen the moose a few times that day. She explained she was carrying a .380 semi-auto, and when it reappeared once more—at full charge—she fired.

Watkins fired around half the pistol's magazine into the bull, which did little to stop it, and her gun jammed as she fled for cover.

Moose, the biggest of the deer family, are well-known to withstand gunshots. "Due to the thick skin on its head and neck and its dense skull, an attacking moose could not be readily stopped with a small, round rifle ball of soft lead," Britannica explains.

And they've killed humans before, as the Department of Fish and Game said more people are injured by moose than bears each year in Alaska.

Their powerful limbs also capable of dispatching wolves with ease. Males can weigh up to 1,600 pounds, and stand seven feet tall at the shoulder.

Watkins and Nelson were now in a stand-off with the bull. She unsheathed her knife and freed six of the 16-strong pack behind them, but the dogs in front were unable to escape.

It charged once more at Watkins as she emptied her remaining bullets into the moose, now just feet away. In the Facebook post, she said: "Musher advice; carry a bigger gun."

She told Outdoor Life: "We're standing there and I said, 'I'm out of bullets, I'm out of bullets, I have no more bullets'... and I'm like, this is it. I can count the whiskers on his nose. He's two feet from me."

But now the bull turned its attention to the dogs, attached to the sled, who were barking. What followed was a sickening 50-minute attack, as the moose repeatedly trampled the dogs, and smashed the sled.

Watkins told the site: "Honestly, I think [the moose] just saw them as a pack of wolves that he was trying to kill. Which I understand. In an animal's mind, that's what they were.

"Any time a dog would move or bark, the moose would go into attack mode. Over and over and over. And we would yell and hit things and scream and try to distract him.

"During the attack, I thought, this is it. This is how my story's going to end."

Alaska's Department of Wildlife and Game noted moose often react badly to dogs, saying: "Moose view dogs as enemies and will sometimes go out of their way to kick at one, even if the dog is on a leash or in a fenced yard."

The pair, with just one bar of service, phoned anyone nearby as well as the Alaska State Troopers. Eventually a friend, accompanied with a rifle, came and shot the moose dead.

They turned their attention to the pack, when Watkins, an emergency room nurse, noticed one dog was missing. The six freed earlier returned to the pack.

Watkins bundled up the two most gravely injured, and jumped on the snowmobile to get help, as volunteers rushed to their aid with kennels, snowmachines and trucks.

The missing dog, Flash, was later found. In the Facebook post, Watkins said: "We have one dog still fight for his life—Flash. He was stomped in the head and has a major head injury. Bronze underwent emergent surgery last night to repair internal organ damage. Bill had a rear leg broke in half and just got out of surgery to stabilize.

"Jefe was stapled up, wounds cleaned and soft tissue damage evaluated. The rest of the team is home, inside and recovering. We have many bumps, bruises, cuts, puncture wounds, hoof prints and broken hearts."

It took them a further 45 minutes to reach a vet, as donations poured in to foot the bills, with a GoFundMe raising more than $9,000.


Getting back on the trail was emotional today! But the team adjusted and overcame and is back to training! Here we come Iditarod!#alwaysanadventure

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Watkins shared an update on Sunday on Facebook, as she said: "Flash—your prayers were poured out and heard as we truly witnessed a miracle. He was later "awake, alert" and even wagged his tail.

"Bill—he is learning to hobble on three legs as his repaired injury heals," she said. Watkins continued: "Bronze—she has been the most relaxed and able to rest well. She's wearing a tee shirt to keep her wounds nice and clean.

"Jefe—what a big silly goofy boy. His injuries are not hardly detectable. His leg is healing and he is 110 percent back to himself."

The Kennel on a Hill TikTok account shared a clip on Monday, captioned "back in the saddle today," as Watkins went back on the trail, admitting it was "emotional."

The Department of Fish and Game advised: "Unlike with bears or even dogs, it is usually a good idea to run from a moose because they won't chase you very far."

Newsweek reached out to Watkins for comment.

File photo of a moose in snow.
File photo of a moose in snow. A woman has recounted the sickening ordeal which saw her sled dogs trampled by a moose. Harry Collins/Getty Images