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Idaho Fish and Game

Yearling moose are often found in search for new territory during the summer months


When moose wander the potential for public safety issues arise

In Idaho, as spring turns to summer moose, especially yearling animals begin to wander in search of new territory that will provide them with luscious food sources and cool water.

South-central Idaho has robust moose populations, especially in the South Hills near Twin Falls and other southern Idaho mountain ranges. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for Fish and Game to receive reports of yearling moose roaming outside of their typical environments. Often these walk-abouts bring moose into agricultural areas and sometimes even venturing into local communities and residential areas. 

In just the last few weeks, Fish and Game biologists in the Magic Valley Region have already started to receive reports of yearling moose on the move in southern Idaho. 

A yearling moose in a Twin Falls city park in 2021.
A yearling moose finds its way in to a Twin Falls city park in 2021

As moose in the Magic Valley wander, the chances of having a chance encounter with a moose are possible. In these situations, moose can often find themselves surrounded by roadways, vehicles and homes. These situations can create uncertainty and stress for both the moose, people and their pets. 

Moose are very large solitary animals. An adult bull or cow can be the size of a horse. With their long legs and big bodies, they can move with deceptive speed, which can present safety issues for a person or their unleashed pet when surprise encounters happen.

Most moose will move safely across the landscape and avoid people if left alone. However, a moose too close to populated areas or trying to cross interstates or highways can become a serious public safety issue because of their unpredictable behavior if they become stressed and feel threatened. Moose, with their dark hair, can also be hard to see, which increases the risk of a collision with fast moving vehicles if they are too close or on highways. 

Most observations of moose on the move come during the early morning or evening hours since moose will feed during these times, and then they will search out cool areas to bed down during the heat of the day. 

If a moose is encountered within city limits, near residential areas, or close to roadways the public is strongly encouraged to contact your local Idaho Fish and Game office or your local law enforcement agency.

If a moose becomes a public safety hazard, Idaho Fish and Game biologists will often attempt to dart and anesthetize the moose so it can be relocated to a more suitable habitat. Efforts to relocate moose are challenging and can pose significant risks to the animal, Fish and Game staff, bystanders, and passing motorists.

Fish and Game staff get a moose ready to be relocated out of town
Fish and Game staff keep a moose cool prior to relocating it out of town

No matter where a moose may be encountered, these general safety precautions should be taken:

  • Do not approach the moose.
  • If a moose is seen on or near a roadway, slow down, but avoid creating a traffic hazard. 
  • Watch for body language that indicates the moose is stressed, such as ears down or hair on their neck stands up. They can also stomp their front hooves and grunt or snort.
  • If an unexpected encounter occurs, make sure there is some type of barrier between you and the moose, such as a large tree or vehicle.
  • Keep pets contained or leashed, and away from the moose. Dogs, especially those off-leash can be perceived by the moose as a threat.
  • Photographing a moose can be exciting but must be done from a safe distance. 

For more information about how to safely live around wildlife contact the Magic Valley Regional Office or your local Fish and Game office.