by Bret Amundson
Photos courtesy of Donny Newman
Wild animal attacks. While rare, there is always the possibility when you spend time in the great outdoors. Fortunately, here in Minnesota there are only a few predators out there that are capable of causing serious injuries to a human.
Black bear and wolves are at the top of that list.
Sure a pack of coyotes could do some harm and the occasional story of a whitetail deer laying a beat down makes headlines, but the one animal you don’t hear as much about is the moose.
Until lately, anyway.
Most moose stories have involved their rapid decline in the state. But lately, a couple of stories have been in the news regarding moose attacks on people, including this one, with video of a man shooting a moose in self defense. Then another video surfaced of a calf attacking a researcher who had just set him free. Now the story of a Nashwauk man who was routinely checking his trap lines when a 9-month-old silver lab named Trigger, saved his life.
“There was a hill-I’m going up over the top..the moose was coming down the same trail that I was on and we just met nose to nose,” Donny Newman recounted.
Were you afraid for you life?
Nothing can prepare you for this type of situation, as wild animals are just that, wild. Unpredictable. And, in this case, massive.
“I took a few steps back and the moose spotted us. The dog barked and she pinned her ears back and just came barreling down the hill at us,” Newman said. “The dog made it to the road, I maybe got four or five steps in and she stepped on my snowshoe and just plowed me over….just started stomping me in the snowbank.”
A tense situation just got worse. Newman is pinned beneath an adult moose out in the middle of the Minnesota wilderness. Hooves are crashing down on top of him in rapid succession. His only protection: a backpack full of meat that he was bringing to place in his traps.
“I just put my hands over my neck and head…hoping for the best that I wouldn’t get stomped on the head or neck. Luckily I had the big heavy backpack on and that is the only thing at that point that save my hide from the stompings.”
But the moose was unrelenting.
“Shortly after, Trigger came back and he was just tearing into the back end of the moose and finally got the moose’s attention off of me. He takes off running down the trail back to the road again and draws the moose away from me. She’s chasing him and stomping at him down the road. He’s avoiding every kick-the lucky bugger,” Newman laughs. “Finally she gave up on him and ran off into the woods and a calf came running down the hill.”
Spotting that calf offers the explanation for why this attack occurred: A mother protecting her young. It’s a story you will hear over and over from just about any species on the planet. This cow moose perceived the human and the dog as a threat to her calf.
Would the moose have attacked even if the dog hadn’t been there barking?
“I think so. I was just way too close. It’s an unfortunate situation where (I) was in their backyard. “
Did Trigger save your life?
“Yes absolutely, pretty amazing.”
Newman escaped with minor injuries and will be making an appearance on MNSJ Radio in the next couple of weeks to tell us more about the harrowing encounter. Watch for details of his appearance on the MNSJ Radio page or on Facebook.