‘Ran for My Life’ – Moose repeatedly tramples sled dogs in horrific hour-long attack
A musher has shared the “most horrific last 24 hours of my life”, after a moose took her hostage while stomping on her sled dogs in an attack that lasted almost an hour.
Bridgett Watkins of Alaska was out in 5°F as she trained for an upcoming Iditarod, a sled dog race. The 38-year-old was out with his friend Jen Nelson on a snowmobile when the moose charged.
She recounted the sickening ordeal, which took place on Thursday, on the Facebook group Kennel on the Hill, which she runs with her husband, Scotty. It has been liked 13,000 times.
Watkins wrote: “This has been the most horrible last 24 hours of my life. In short, we were attacked by a very large, healthy bull moose on a 52 mile run. As he charged at me, I emptied my gun at him and he never stopped, I ran for my life and prayed I was quick enough not to be killed then.
“He stomped on the team, then turned around and charged at us humans seeking shelter next to our machine. He stopped just two feet in front of our snow machine. I was able to free six dogs that were part of the team connected to the machine.
“But unfortunately he went back to my team strapped to my sled and stomped on them again and again; repeatedly, for almost an hour, it continued. I have never felt so helpless in my life.
“He didn’t want to leave us alone and he even stood above the team refusing to retreat. Our friend who lives by the river was finally able to join us and kill the animal that is fell right next to the team.”
Moose are not uncommon in Alaska, with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game stating that there are “175,000 to 200,000 moose” statewide.
Watkins spoke to Outdoor living, explaining that she had seen the moose several times that day. She explained that she was carrying a .380 semi-auto, and when it reappeared once more – fully loaded – she fired.
Watkins fired about half the pistol’s magazine into the bull, which did little to stop her, and her gun jammed as she ran for cover .
Moose, the largest of the deer family, are well known for withstanding gunfire. “Due to the thick skin on its head and neck and dense skull, an attacking moose could not be easily stopped with a small, round soft lead rifle bullet,” British Explain.
And they’ve killed humans before, because the Department of Fish and Wildlife says more people are injured by moose than bears each year in Alaska.
Their powerful limbs are also capable of dispatching wolves with ease. Males can weigh up to 1,600 pounds and stand seven feet tall at the shoulder.
Watkins and Nelson were now at an impasse with the bull. She drew her knife and freed six of the 16 men behind them, but the dogs in front were unable to escape.
He charged Watkins once more as she emptied her remaining balls into the moose, now just yards away. In the Facebook post, she said, “Musher advice; carry a bigger weapon.”
She said Outdoor living“We’re here and I said, ‘I’m out of balls, I’m out of balls, I’m out of balls’… and I’m like, this is it. I can count the whiskers on his nose. He’s two feet from me.
But now the bull turned his attention to the dogs, tied to the sled, who were barking. What followed was a sickening 50-minute attack, as the moose repeatedly trampled the dogs and broke the sled.
Watkins told the site, “Honestly, I think [the moose] just saw them as a pack of wolves he was trying to kill. What I understand. In the mind of an animal, that’s what they were.
“Every time a dog moved or barked, the moose would go into attack mode. Over and over and over again. And we were yelling and hitting things and yelling and trying to distract him.
“During the attack, I thought, this is it. This is how my story is going to end.”
The Alaska Department of Wildlife and Game noted that moose often react badly to dogs, saying, “Moose see dogs as enemies and sometimes go out of their way to hit one, even if the dog is on a leash or in a fenced yard.”
The pair, with only one bar on duty, phoned anyone nearby as well as Alaska State Troopers. Eventually a friend, accompanied by a gun, came and shot the moose.
They turned their attention to the pack, when Watkins, an ER nurse, noticed a missing dog. The six released earlier returned to the peloton.
Watkins rounded up the two most seriously injured casualties and jumped on the snowmobile for help, as volunteers rushed to their aid with kennels, snowmobiles and trucks.
The missing dog, Flash, was later found. In the Facebook post, Watkins said: “We have a dog who is still fighting for his life – Flash. He was stomped on the head and has a serious head injury. Bronze underwent urgent surgery overnight. last to repair damage to internal organs.Bill had a back leg broke in half and has just come out of surgery to stabilize.
“Jefe has been stapled, wounds cleaned and soft tissue damage assessed. The rest of the team is home, indoors and recovering. We have lots of bumps, bruises, cuts, punctures, hoof prints and broken hearts.”
It took them another 45 minutes to reach a vet, as donations poured in to pay the bills, with a GoFundMe raising over $9,000.
Watkins shared an update Sunday on Facebook, as she said: “Flash – your prayers have been poured and heard as we have truly witnessed a miracle. Later he was ‘awake, alert “and even wagged his tail.
“Bill, he’s learning to hobble on three legs while his injury heals,” she said. Watkins continued: “Bronze – she’s been the most relaxed and able to rest well. She wears a t-shirt to keep her wounds clean and neat.
“Jefe, what a stupid, clumsy fat boy. His injuries are barely detectable. His leg is healing and he is 110% back to himself.”
The Kennel on a Hill TikTok account shared a clip on Monday, captioned “back in the saddle today”, as Watkins took to the track, admitting it was “emotional”.
The Department of Fish and Game advised: “Unlike bears or even dogs, it’s generally a good idea to run away from a moose as they won’t chase you very far.”
Newsweek has contacted Watkins for comment.