Denali National Park and Preserve Feature

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Moose and Bear Safety

Enjoy moose from a distance! Weighing 1,000 pounds or more, they can get pretty mean despite their harmless appearance; in fact, every year moose injure more people than any other large wild animal on the planet aside from hippos. Never get between a moose and its calf. If you encounter a moose at close range acting aggressively, leave the area immediately and quickly. If it decides to charge, either stand behind a tree or stand still with your arms raised and fingers spread to convince the moose that you are the bigger animal. Remember: moose can kick with either their front or back hooves. Tactics are a bit more clear-cut for one of Denali's other major megafauna, the bear. Never run from a bear—food runs, so you may trigger its predatory chase instincts and encourage the bear to respond to you as prey. This is a bad thing. Keep in mind that a surprised bear is an unhappy bear, so make some noise as you hike to let them know you're coming. If you see a bear, back up slowly in the direction you came from, and wait for the animal to move on. Do not even think of getting anywhere near a bear cub as its mother is surely somewhere nearby and she will not be amused by your interest in her baby. If a bear makes a move toward you, stand next to your hiking partners and hold your jackets open, so you look as large as possible. Talk in a low, calm voice. The bear standing up is not a threat maneuver; that’s just him trying to get a better look at you. Threat is turning sideways to show you just how big he really is. But truly, the bear has pretty much no interest in messing with you: you're just something distracting them from their daily business of survival, so a little caution and a large dose of common sense should assure you a safe trip in the park. A don't-miss summary of bear-safety tips is available at the Denali Visitor Center.

Updated: 01-2014

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