In the early morning hours of Tuesday, January 24, a family traveling on US Highway 53 south of Eveleth had a scary run-in with a moose.

The St. Louis County Rescue Squad reported a family of three was traveling on US 53 just north of Cotton, west of Melrude, where the family collided with a moose in their Mitsubishi Outlander. The collision completely broke the windshield and collapsed a significant part of the roof of the car.

While moose are majestic and often elusive creatures many people rarely see, they can be especially dangerous in the event of a vehicle collision.

Law enforcement and wildlife agencies in moose territory warn that moose-vehicle collisions are especially dangerous when compared to other wildlife collisions. As the National Park Service explains, vehicle-moose collisions are particularly dangerous because of the way the animals are constructed.

Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash
Photo by Ivars Krutainis on Unsplash

Moose are large animals, which is a clear recipe for a particularly bad collision. They can weigh more than 1,300 pounds - which is quite a bit more than a deer. Add that to their height due to their long legs, and that places the majority of their body mass at a height that might be above the engine compartment of the vehicle. This means that rather than the front of the vehicle absorbing much of the collision, the first main point of contact might be the windshield or roof of the vehicle. This increases the likelihood of injury for people in the vehicle.

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Thankfully, in this case, the three family members in the car were left with only "very minor" injuries according to the St. Louis County Rescue Squad. While this family was quite lucky to avoid serious injury, the young bull moose did not survive the collision.

Experts say that moose can sometimes be attracted to roadways due to road salt or other minerals on or near the road during winter months or due to the fact it is a path with less-deep snow - though, this doesn't always mean moose are more likely to be spotted near a road in the winter. They could be on or near a roadway for any number of reasons at any time of year.

Advice on avoiding a moose collision includes quite a bit of common sense, but also something that might seem contrary to your instinct. Experts say you should stay alert while driving in moose country (particularly in rural areas), especially between dusk and dawn when most moose and deer are active. Like with deer, if you see one moose, there likely could be others nearby.

If you're in a standoff with a moose on a road, you should not honk your horn or try to drive around the moose and you should stay in your vehicle. Keep your distance and wait for the moose to get off the roadway before continuing.

If a collision with a moose is unavoidable, the advice from the Maine DOT (another common moose area) is to avoid swerving, which could lead to a complete loss of control of your vehicle and a potentially worse outcome. They offer the following advice:

If a crash with an animal is imminent, apply the brakes and steer straight. Let up on the brakes just before impact to allow the front of your vehicle to rise slightly and aim to hit the tail end of the animal. This can reduce the risk of the animal striking the windshield area and may increase your chances of missing it. Duck down to protect yourself from windshield debris.

Thankfully moose sightings and collisions are significantly less frequent in the Northland than in areas like Maine or Alaska. It is still important to be aware and on the lookout across moose country in the Northland too, though.

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