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Idaho backpacker kills charging bull moose in self-defense

Officials say the moose tore through the man's campsite and charged at him and his dog, even after he tried to take refuge behind a tree.
Credit: Mike Morrison
Bull moose

SANDPOINT, Idaho — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game says a man backpacking in North Idaho shot and killed a moose after it tore through his campsite and charged at him and his dog. 

The killing of the bull moose has been determined to be self-defense, and the backpacker will not face any charges. 

The incident happened at the Harrison Lake backcountry camping area north of Sandpoint on Tuesday.

According to Fish and Game, the bull moose came into the area where the man had set up his tent and tore apart his campsite before charging aggressively towards him. The camper hid behind a tree, officials said, but the moose continued to charge toward him and his dog. 

At that point, Fish and Game says, the backpacker shot the moose at close range, killing it.

The shooting was reported to Fish and Game officers, who hiked in and found the dead moose. The Harrison Lake trailhead is currently closed to hikers to prevent people from coming upon any bears that may feed on the carcass.

Bear spray can be used as a deterrent to moose and other large animals, and is always recommended when traveling in the backcountry. Any hikers or campers should give moose a wide berth and never allow dogs to approach or chase them. Moose can become agitated if they perceive a threat. 

Fish and Game advises making noise when hiking to avoid surprising the large animals, and avoid hiking or trail running with headphones. 

If you encounter a moose, look for signs of stress or agitation including laid-back ears or raised hair on the neck. If possible, put a barrier like a tree or a car between you and the moose. 

Moose are more likely to charge or become aggressive is someone gets between a cow and her calf, during the mating season in fall, or in late winter when food is scarce and the moose's fat reserves are low. 

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