GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. — A 79-year-old woman was attacked and severely injured after a cow moose attacked her on Friday evening south of Glenwood Springs, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The woman, who lives in a rural area, was dog-sitting for one of the tenants in her home and was looking to take the dog out into the yard. She told CPW that she had seen a cow moose and its two calves in the yard earlier that day, but did not see them by the evening. Around 9 p.m, she went outside with the leashed dog.
The moose, which was apparently nearby but out of sight, attacked the woman. A resident inside the home said the cow was "stomping" on the woman, according to CPW.
The woman was brought to a local hospital and then transported via helicopter that evening to another hospital on the Front Range due to the extent of her injuries.
CPW Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita said this is likely an incident of a mother moose protecting her calves. Moose frequent the area year-round, he said, and the trio had been reported in the area for an extended time with no prior incidents or aggressive behavior.
He said the incident was no fault of the woman.
"Conflicts with moose can happen, even when you follow best practices for living in moose habitat," he said.
CPW wildlife officers searched for the cow and calves through Monday. However, residents said there are many cows and calves in the area, making it difficult to identify the correct animal. Wildlife officers have discontinued the search, CPW said.
“Since Friday night, we have been talking with the local residents to educate them about living in moose habitat, the potential dangers associated with interacting with moose and actions they can take to minimize the risk of conflict," Yamashita said.
On Aug. 7, a man in Clear Creek County was charged by a bull moose but dove behind a tree and was not injured. On May 29, a man was knocked over and stomped on by a cow moose in Steamboat Springs. She had two calves with her. The man had minor injuries.
Moose are very protective of their offspring and will attack, even if not provoked. Wildlife officials say they are more likely to attack if dogs are present, as it may see the dog as a wolf — a primary predator for moose. CPW recommends keeping dogs leashed in the backcountry or where moose may be present.
If you see a moose, keep your distance and look for warning signs. Signs of aggression include laid-back ears, raised air on their neck and licking their snout. If a moose charges at you, run as fast as you can or put a large object — like a boulder, car or tree — in between you and the animal.
To learn more about living with moose, visit CPW's website here.