The Caribou-Targhee National Forest, in collaboration with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game will be temporarily closing a portion of Trail #014 in the Gibson Jack area south of Pocatello effective immediately.
The closed portion of the trail system includes the section of Gibson Jack Trail (#014) from the junction of the #022 motorized trail east to the junction of the Sterling Justice Trail.
This action is in response to the recent conflict between a cow moose and a group of mountain bikers about a half a mile from the Gibson Jack Trailhead this past weekend.
Five individuals on mountain bikes unintentionally encountered a cow moose and her calf on the morning of Saturday, August 28. Four of the riders escaped unharmed, but the fifth rider was unable to avoid the moose pair. The cow moose charged the fifth rider, and despite his efforts to escape, struck him several times with her front hooves. Fortunately, the biker's helmet sustained most of the damage.
This is not the first report of conflicts with a moose and her calf in this area. Other incidents have been reported involving a defensive moose with her calf on the Gibson Jack trail system over the summer. Another moose and her two calves have been seen in the West Bench area of Pocatello, though Fish and Game is not aware of any reports of aggressive behavior.
The decision to temporarily close a portion of the Gibson Jack Trail was made in the interest of public safety as well as the welfare of the cow moose and her calf.
It is not feasible to relocate the moose pair as this would require attempting to chemically immobilize the moose and her calf, and then trying to hand-cart both sedated animals down the bike trail-possibly as far as a mile-- without the benefit of motorized transportation. In that scenario, the risks involved to both moose and personnel are too great. Even if the two moose could be relocated, it is likely that due to their territorial nature the cow would bring her calf back to the same area.
The trail will be reopened to the public as soon as the Forest Service and Fish and Game determine that the risk to public safety has been appropriately reduced.
Though conflicts with moose are usually rare, moose can be particularly aggressive, especially during the fall when bulls are rutting or any time a cow moose is with her calf.
The Forest Service and Fish and Game would like to remind outdoor enthusiasts that we are fortunate to recreate in a wildlife-rich area, and the responsibility to be aware of our surroundings and to know the proper course of action in a wildlife encounter is on us.
What to Do if You See a Moose?
Keep your distance. Never approach a moose, especially a female with her young.
A moose will often bluff by pawing the ground and licking its lips. If it lowers its ears, a charge is forthcoming.
If a moose charges, run. Try to keep a tree or other object between you and the moose, or climb a tree as necessary.
If you find yourself with no escape and the moose has you on the ground, curl in a ball and do your best to protect your face and head. Try not to make noise. Moose charge because they perceive you as a threat. If you are curled up on the ground quietly, you will likely appear less threatening.
Carrying and discharging a can of bear spray may also deter a charging moose.