BIG SKY—At least four moose were spotted Thursday afternoon wandering about Big Sky Town Center.
One was a lone bull moose that happened to use the crosswalk to cross Town Center Avenue during a walkabout. Another was a cow and two calves that grazed their way around Ousel Falls Road and Lone Peak Drive.
Cow moose are defensive of their young, so it’s important to give them extra distance during an encounter, according to the National Park Service.
NPS recommends that, if you find yourself close to a moose, you do not be aggressive, so it won’t perceive you as a threat. If the moose hasn’t noticed you yet, keep it that way and if it does, talk to it softly and move away slowly.
If the moose appears likely to charge—warning signs are if its ears are laid back and hackles are up—either run away or get behind something solid like a tree or a vehicle, according to the NPS. If one does charge, wait until the moose has backed off to a safe distance before leaving the area, otherwise it’s possible the moose will renew its attack.
Moose are unlikely to chase you and if they do, NPS writes, they’re unlikely to do so for very long.
The state of Montana is nearing the end of a decade-long study of moose populations in three areas in the state: the Big Hole Valley, Cabinet-Salish Mountains and the Rocky Mountain Front. The study found that the populations seem to be rather steady, apart from the Big Hole population, which is afflicted by arterial parasites, according to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks study.
Moose generally stay within a territory of about 10 square miles, FWP reports, but some are known to range widely. Their habitat is under threat as the climate changes, allowing parasites and ticks to flourish and diminishing forage for the animals.