SALCHA, Alaska (KDVR) — A team of sled dogs training for the Iditarod were attacked by a moose while on a snow-covered trail.
Bridgett Watkins shared the terrifying encounter on Friday evening saying, “This has been the most horrific 24-hours of my life.”
Watkins said the Kennel on a Hill mushing team was on a 52-mile run when the bull moose charged.
“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 2 feet in front of our snow machine,” shared Watkins.
Watkins said she was able to cut six of the dogs on the team free from the machine, but the moose went back to the team attached to her sled and trampled them over and over.
She said the attack lasted for nearly an hour.
“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,” Watkins said. “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.”
Four of the dogs were taken to the vet and treated for more serious injuries.
“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,” Watkins shared.
Other dogs on the team suffered bumps, bruises, cuts, puncture wounds, hoof prints, and what Watkins said are broken hearts.
“Please pray for us all as we continue down this road. musher advice; carry a bigger gun,” shared Watkins.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game more people in Alaska are injured by moose than by bears each year.
“If you are going to be anywhere in moose country, whether it’s hiking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, whatever it may be, you need to be very alert to your surroundings,” Jason Clay, spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife said. “If you do come across a moose, it is likely not going to back out of your way.”
If a moose charges you, here’s what Clay said you should do:
- Run away as fast as possible
- Get behind a large tree, rock, or other object
- If you are knocked down, get up quickly
- If injured, seek immediate medical attention
Clay said moose typically respond to threats by raising their hackles on the back of their neck, licking their snout and pinning their ears back. They may bluff-charge at first, then turn back and charge aggressively, kicking and stomping the threat with their sharp hooves and powerful front leg.