Backcountry Camper Forced to Shoot Aggressive Bull Moose That Destroyed Campsite and Charged Him and His Dog

HARRISON LAKE, IDAHO – A camper used a .45 caliber handgun to kill an aggressive bull moose after it tore up his campsite and charged the man and his dog, according to a press release by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The man attempted to avoid the encounter by hiding behind a tree, but the moose continued to charge. The release states that the camper discharged a firearm at the moose in self-defense from close range. Officers with IDFG responded to the incident and located the deceased moose.

The U.S. Forest Service has closed the Harrison Lake trailhead to hikers for the next week, reportedly to prevent possible conflicts between hikers and any bears that may show up to feed on the carcass, which will apparently not be removed.

Officials did not say if the man’s dog was on leash or not, but it was in camp with him at the time of the incident.  “The guy was camping there, so he had a whole camp set up,” IDFG spokeswoman Kara Campbell said.  According to her, there have been reports of a male moose in the Harrison Lake area for years. While it is possible that this was the same moose, she could not confirm that.

Ben Read, a frequent visitor to Harrison Lake, says that he has seen a male moose in the area regularly for the past five years. “I can’t say there’s never been an issue because I know people generally run into him around the camp and obviously the two don’t mix. However, I’ve never heard of a charging or trampling issue that someone was never able to avoid or get away from…not to mention probably half of the hikers up there these days carry firearms.”

Read added that the Forest Service posted a note at the trailhead last year warning visitors about an “aggressive moose” at camp. Locals familiar with the area warned other hikers and tried to educate them. He commented that the Harrison Lake trailhead has exploded in popularity in recent years.

The concentration of people, alongside wildlife like moose, bears and wolves, means campers must educate themselves, Campbell said, adding, “Educate yourself. Bear spray isn’t just for bears.”

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