Officer says video of snowmobilers' moose meeting shows what not to do
A New Hampshire couple's close encounter with a charging moose in Maine, captured on video and posted online, could have quickly turned deadly, a Fish and Game conservation officer said Saturday.
Janis and Bob Powell of Belmont on Friday posted a two-minute YouTube video of the scary incident, which happened while they were riding snowmobiles in Jackman, Maine. By early Saturday evening, the video had gotten more than 5,200 views.
It shows the two riders coming upon a moose on a trail and the animal, ears flat and head lowered, charging Bob Powell, the lead rider. The moose turns and trots away after Janis Powell fires a handgun into the air.
Watch the video for yourself:
Lt. Jim Juneau of New Hampshire Fish and Game watched the video and said the animal appeared to be a young bull moose that had recently dropped its antlers. And he said it was "a very dangerous situation."
"It wouldn't take but one well-placed kick from one of those hoofs and it could cause a very serious injury," he said. "People definitely need to keep their distance when it comes to wildlife."
Juneau said encountering moose on snowmobile trails in wilderness areas is common. But he said riders need to respect the size and speed of these animals and keep their distance.
"I'm guessing if they had followed it for a bit, it probably grew weary of that and felt like it had to become a little more aggressive to defend himself."
Juneau said the riders were lucky to have escaped unharmed; there were no trees nearby that could have served as barriers to a charging moose.
"Had that animal decided to have been really aggressive, they would have been hard-pressed to have protected themselves."
"These animals, they look large, they look clumsy, but they are amazingly fast," he said. "And those legs are extremely heavy and extremely powerful. It wouldn't take much of a blow to really cause injury to a human."
The Powells could not be reached for comment Saturday, but in a description of the incident posted on YouTube, they wrote that they weren't chasing the moose.
"It had come out onto the trail, and we followed it a ways expecting it to get off the trail any time, which normally happens when we come across them."
However, some YouTube commenters took the pair to task for following the moose. One person even posted a link to a longer version of the video on the website of a Portland television station; it clearly shows the sleds following the moose down the trail before the animal slows, stops and turns around.
Juneau only saw the shorter version of the video and didn't see what led up to the moose's charge. "So I hate to be judgmental, but clearly if they had followed it for a while, there's a chance it pushed the animal to its limits and it decided to become a bit more aggressive in protecting itself."
The Powells went on YouTube Saturday afternoon to respond to some of the criticism posted there. They said they've encountered moose on the trails before.
"What happens is that they stop and look at us, so we go, then they go, and it repeats, sometimes for miles on end," they wrote. "Believe me, we'll be keeping much more distance in the future."
Comments on the YouTube video were disabled last evening.
If a rider becomes aware of an animal on a trail, Juneau said, "try and slowly retreat, possibly raising your arms in the air to make yourself appear bigger. Just try to seek cover and remove yourself."
He added: "When an animal puts its head down like that and you see the ears pinned back, that's a sign of aggression, and the animal could very well be coming your way in a matter of seconds."