Friday, February 18, 2011

Mowed over by a moose!

Bangor Daily News reports on one woman's encounter with a very big bull moose! "Douglass suffered an injured shoulder from the moose impact, another injured shoulder from hitting the ground, mild hypothermia and frostbite on her lower legs. She also suffered severe leg bruising, mostly from the difficult trip home without her snowshoes."
Orland woman: I was run over by a moose
By Karen Douglas, Special to the BDN
Posted Feb. 18, 2011, at 11:44 a.m.

ORLAND, Maine — [...] This winter’s exceptional snowfall prompted me to take up snowshoeing, and lately my three dogs and I have been regular visitors to the woods.
My dogs caught scent of something and took off. [...] I could hear them all barking like mad in the distance, which is generally not a good sign. My first thought was that they had encountered a porcupine and all I could think about as I made my way toward them was how much a veterinarian visit for quill removal was going to cost me this time.
As I clawed to the top of the embankment on the other side of the stream I saw him — a bull [moose] about 6 feet high at the shoulder. I’m 6 feet tall, and he was looking down at me. Mature bulls drop their antlers after mating season, to conserve energy for the winter, and this one was not sporting a set, so I assumed he was an adult. He also had a large “bell” on his neck.

The moose didn’t seem especially concerned about the three dogs barking at his heels. All three were keeping their distance, just making a lot of noise. The moose was standing under a grove of trees, where there was relatively little snow, munching on vegetation. I had heard that moose can be aggressive, but I was fooled into complacency by this moose’s calm demeanor. I thought the best thing to do was to grab the dogs’ leashes and lead them away before the moose got riled.

I made a wide circle as I approached. When I was about halfway to the dogs and out in the open, the moose charged. My right side was to the moose. I was trying to avoid direct eye contact, so I only saw him from my periphery just before he rammed me.

The force threw me to the ground. I stayed down, stunned, in a fetal position. I wanted to make certain that he wasn’t coming back to trample me or kick me in the head. All three dogs came over to empathetically lick my face, and I was able to grab the leash of the largest and loudest of the three dogs. I figured if I could lead him away, the other two would follow.

Content that the threat was gone, the moose went back to his spot under the trees to stand his ground.

I crawled with the leash in hand to a stand of trees where I could be out of sight before I stood again. [...] I realized that one snowshoe had been knocked off in the attack. I scanned the ground for it, but I didn’t see it. I wasn’t fond of the idea of revisiting the moose to fetch it. Had I realized how difficult it was going to be to hike out of the woods without snowshoes, I probably would have risked going back. I abandoned the remaining snowshoe because it wasn’t doing me any good.
Many times I had to crawl across the snow to make headway, pausing often, exhausted, wet and freezing, wondering why I had left my house without my cell phone that morning. I knew I was getting hypothermic because I was trying to tell the dogs that had now rejoined me to “just go home!” afraid that they would freeze. I heard myself slurring words. My feet and lower legs felt like slabs of meat fresh out of the freezer, but I didn’t dare pause to look closely. I just wanted to get myself to the safety of home, then worry about frostbite.
Read full article and see photo on the Bangor Daily News site:

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