An area jogger was severely injured and transported to EIRMC Saturday afternoon as a result of a bull moose charge.
Joel Case, 65, was jogging along a trail near Packsaddle Estates with his two dogs, enjoying the beautiful fall weather.
Case had just come up with his wife and sister-in-law on Saturday, and Case figured a jog would be a good way to stretch the legs after the car ride from his residence in Idaho Falls. Case grabbed his running shoes, and turned on an audio broadcast of his favorite college football team.
Both his dogs, one a border collie and the other a shepherd, started barking loudly after starting to rise above the treeline off the double-track trail. Case knew something was up but thought he encountered grazing livestock, which he sees often.
“I thought it was a cow at first, but it wasn’t,” said Case. “It was a big bull moose. I had encountered moose before and knew they are nuts, so I backed off and yelled for the dogs to get away and tried to take a wide circle around.”
Bad turned to worse when Case saw the moose’s ears flatten and its head bow.
“I was just a bit too close though, and when I started going around, he put his ears back and lowered his head and I thought ‘oh hell, he is going to charge’,” said Case. “I was only about 10 yards away as he started charging, I turned and ran, but the next thing I knew I was flying through the air. I flew through the air and I hit the ground pretty hard.”
Case knew he was relatively alright at first, but was still in considerable pain.
“I felt like I was hit by a truck, which I guess I was,” Case said, with a pained laugh.
“He hit my right side and kinda knocked the wind out of me. I landed and then I gathered myself, laying on the ground, checking if everything was ok and intact,” said Case. “I just sat there dazed and stood up after collecting myself. Luckily I had some cell phone service up there and I called my wife and had her meet me where the trail comes out in the subdivision.”
It took about a half hour for case to walk himself out, to a point where his wife picked him up and got him to TVH’s emergency room.
“I can’t say enough about the local hospital and the staff,” said Case. “It happened at about 2:30 Saturday afternoon. Probably an hour later I got to the emergency room of TVH,” said Case.
“They cleaned me up, and did all the x-rays. I had a broken right rib, a lung contusion, and a bit of a collapsed lung. I was lucky in that I had a cut directly under my left eye, and the orbital didn’t fracture” said Case. “They sent the x-rays over to EIRMC, talked it over, and said the best thing would be if I was kept overnight at EIRMC. I got an ambulance ride over there from Teton County Fire.”
Case was grateful that the moose didn’t stick around to stomp on him.
“I’m very lucky, it could have been a lot worse. He didn’t stay around to stomp me. Some of the attacks I’ve read about, that has happened,” said Case.
While recognizing the accident as a freak occurrence, Case admitted he didn’t do himself any favors.
“There seems to be a lot of common denominators when people run into moose,” said Case, who has done some homework after the incident.
“They don’t like dogs, they think they are wolves, it seems to be a combination of having a dog off leash and moose can kind of be unexpected,” Case continued. “I was listening in to a football game and wasn’t completely aware of my surroundings.”
Case went on to attest that if he would have been paying a bit more attention to his surroundings, there would have been a better chance for him to avoid the bull. The same goes for controlling his dogs.
Bull moose, and other male ungulates, are typically more cranky during the fall rutting season with higher amounts of testosterone in their system. Cows are more aggressive in spring as they are protective of their calves.
Always beware of wildlife when going out for a walk, hike, bike ride, or while out on horseback. If you have any questions or concerns, contact Idaho Fish and Game for guidance on how to avoid wildlife encounters.