A video that surfaced on social media showing two men in Big Sky approaching and apparently touching a moose has triggered an investigation by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Morgan Jacobsen, FWP’s Region 3 communication and education program manager, wrote in an email to Explore Big Sky that a game warden is piecing together what happened and whether any illegal activity occurred. No conclusions had been drawn as of early Thursday afternoon.
“In Big Sky… there’s wildlife there all the time,” Jacobsen told KBZK earlier in the week. “If we’re going to share these spaces with wildlife, we have to live responsibly.”
Last June, a group of seven people walking between Turkey Leg and Sitting Bull roads at Big Sky Resort were charged by a cow moose. Two of the people received minor injuries.
Winter and spring are stressful times for wildlife, as they rely on fat reserves and limited nutrition to survive. Encounters with people can stress wild animals and deplete their energy reserves, according to the FWP.
Winters with heavy snowfall and cold temperatures—such as the 2022-2023 winter—place greater than normal stress on wildlife. The FWP recommends people avoid recreating in areas with wintering wildlife, keeping pets under control and never feeding wildlife because it’s illegal and can cause digestive failure for animals, which can kill them.
If a person encounters wildlife—especially ungulates like moose and bighorn sheep—the FWP recommends giving them plenty of space. It might seem like the animals don’t mind your presence, but stress from the encounters is harmful and may impact their survival.
Jacobsen said that if you come across a moose, the first thing is to not get any closer to it. If the moose isn’t approaching you or otherwise engaged with you, the best thing to do is back away and leave the area. If the moose charges, he recommended getting behind something solid like a tree, rock or a vehicle.