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Are Moose More Dangerous Than Bears?

Bears have a reputation for being dangerous and most people know to avoid close-contacts with them in the wild. In contrast, moose can look calm and cute, making them seem approachable.

This doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous or incapable of attacking humans. But how deadly are moose attacks? And, are moose more dangerous than bears? Let’s find out answers to these questions and more on bear vs. moose attacks, why they attack, and what to do if you encounter one of these wild animals.

Key takeaways

  • Both moose and bears are dangerous and capable of causing deadly injuries to humans
  • In Alaska, more people are injured by moose attacks than bears annually
  • Moose and bears will attack when they feel threatened, to protect their young, and when hungry

Are moose more dangerous than bears?

Bears are known for being dangerous for a reason. Their attacks can be ferocious when they rear on their hind legs and strike you with their claws and teeth. Although their attacks are rare compared to the number of human-bear encounters in the wild, they can be deadly.

However, moose are just as dangerous as bears. Their charges can cause serious injuries, especially since they kick forward with their front hooves and can use their antlers.

If they knock you down they can sometimes start kicking or stomping you with all four feet. Even a calf weighs around 300 or 400 pounds and can be dangerous if they attack you.

baby moose
baby moose | Image by Enlightening Images from Pixabay

In northern areas of North America, where the moose population outnumbers bears, you could say moose are more dangerous since there are more reported moose attacks than bear attacks.

How common is a moose attack?

In Alaska, more people are injured each year by moose attacks than bears. This is partially due to the large moose population and since they outnumber bears 3 to 1. Around 5 to 10 people in Alaska are wounded because of moose annually.

The state also estimates over 800 vehicle accidents caused by moose collisions yearly, which can result in severe injuries or death for drivers and passengers.

​​How often do bears attack humans?

black bear walking

Brown bears are a species that are more likely to attack humans. A study on brown bear attacks between 2000 to 2015 found 183 attacks on humans in North America and an attack rate of 11.4 attacks per year.

Of these attacks, 13.1% resulted in deaths. North American regions with the most brown bear attacks were Alaska, British Columbia, Wyoming, Montana, and Alberta. In contrast, fatal attacks from species such as black bears are more rare.

Why do moose attack humans?

Generally, moose will run away when they feel threatened; however, in specific situations, they are known to attack humans. Males are most aggressive during the mating season in late September and October.

In late spring or summer, females with young calves are very protective and will attack if they get too close. Make sure never to walk between a calf and mother.

Moose can also become aggressive if you harass them or when they are startled by pets or traffic. During the winter, they can be more aggressive due to feeling hungry and tired when they have to walk through deep snow in search of food.

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However, it is dangerous to feed moose since they can become conditioned, expect the food, and act aggressively when you don’t continue to feed them.

adult female moose and moose calf walking in a river
Female moose leading her calf across a river | image by USFWS Mountain Prairie via Flickr

What do you do when a moose charges?

Most of the time moose charges are bluffs and warning signals for you to back off. However, don’t stand around to see if they are bluffing. When a moose charges at you, run to a safe place like inside a car or building or get behind something solid like a tree or fence.

The key signals that a moose is ready to attack include raised hairs on its hump, lip licking, and ears laid back. If you get knocked down by a moose and they are stomping you, curl up into a ball and protect your head with your hands. Don’t try to get up or move until the moose is a safe distance away, or they may re-charge.

What would cause a bear to attack you?

Most bears are shy and prefer to retreat and avoid human interactions. They typically will only become aggressive and attack if they feel threatened, are startled, or are very hungry.

Bears searching for food in human campsites, homes, or trash cans are a common reason for dangerous encounters. Female bears can also be aggressive when their cubs are around since bears are very protective.

A 3-year study of black bear attacks in North America found that over half of the 92 attacks involved a dog off-leash. Typically the dog will harass the bear and, when chased, run back to their owners, causing a negative human-bear interaction.

What should you do if you encounter a bear?

Don’t run or make any sudden movements if you encounter a bear. You want to stay calm so you don’t startle them and let the bear identify you as human, not prey, by slowly waving your arms. They may get on their hind legs for a better smell or look. Standing bears doesn’t necessarily mean they are threatened, just curious.

You can move away slowly and sideways so your movement is non-threatening to the bear. Try to get to higher ground so you look as large as possible. If a bear attacks you, fighting back can increase the intensity of the attack but is sometimes necessary.

If you find you have to fight, concentrate your kicks or blows to the bear’s muzzle and face. For brown or grizzly bears, you can play dead so the bear loses interest in you. However, don’t play dead with black bear encounters.


How dangerous moose and bears are in comparison depends on where you live and what bear species you encounter. In places like Alaska, moose can be more dangerous since they have a large population leading to more annual injuries from moose attacks or moose vehicle collisions.

However, among bears, brown bears are known to be most likely to attack humans. Luckily, there are ways to avoid deadly encounters and keep yourself safe even while facing an attack.

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