By Jamie Leary

WINTER PARK, Colo. (CBS4) – A Boulder woman is expected to undergo surgery following an attack by an aggressive moose Sunday in Winter Park.

“We just hit head-to-head and she knocked me full force in the head. She kicked me in my ankles, and she broke my back and she broke my arm, and she just threw me around and I got up which was stupid,” said Diane Joy Israel. “I got up because I think I wanted to see if I was alive, and she just attacked me again.”

Israel is a world renowned triathlete who finds joy in her solo morning hikes. She’s been doing it since she can remember and not once has she experienced an animal encounter as aggressive as this.

(credit: CBS)

Israel was hiking in Winter Park near Vasquez Creek early Sunday morning when she nearly collided with a lone cow moose. It was still fairly dark and she had forgotten to bring the headlamp she normally uses.

“On Sunday I forgot my headlamp. I didn’t have my headlamp, so I was staying on the main road on Little Vasquez Road, and the next thing I knew around 5:30 I was met with a female moose. There were no babies around. I think she was kind of like, ‘What the f*** are you doing in my space?’” said Israel.

After the moose attacked a second time, Israel played dead for around 10 minutes. At that point she thought it possible she may die.

“I laid on ground, and I just thought you know this is really a good way to die because I’m an animal lover,” she said.

Somehow, she found the strength to stand and hike several miles back to her condo and then took herself to a nearby emergency room.

(credit: CBS)

This is the second moose conflict in the area within a week. Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports on Aug. 25, a 62-year-old man was attacked by a bull moose while running with his two dogs on a trail on the west side of Winter Park.

“Moose don’t really fear humans,” said Tom Davies, District Wildlife Manager for CPW. “There’s nothing out there that’s really big enough to take them so they don’t feel that we’re a threat to them and if they don’t feel threatened by us they’re more likely to challenge us.”

With more recreationalists out on the trails than ever before, the conflicts continue to rise.

According to CPW, a 79-year-old woman was attacked by a cow moose and severely injured on Friday, Aug. 13, around 9 p.m. in a rural area outside a home south of Glenwood Springs.

On Saturday, Aug. 7, CPW says a man walking along a willow bottom heading towards a lake in Clear Creek County and was charged by a bull moose. The viral video shows just how quickly a moose can decide to charge on a person. That man came away uninjured as he dived behind a tree, which the bull moose hit.

On May 29 in Steamboat Springs, CPW received a report of man who was knocked over on his back and stomped by a cow moose with two calves. The victim stated that his small dog was outside unleashed when he heard it start barking and realized there was a moose in the area. He stepped forward to grab the dog and that is when the moose charged at him. That man was examined for minor injuries on site.

Davies said the conflicts most commonly occur when hikers are with their dogs and says if your dog runs toward a moose, you should run the other way and try to find a large object to put between yourself and the animal. Davies said the dog will likely be able to run away where humans will not.

(credit: CBS)

The best thing to do is to try and minimize moose conflicts by being wise about where you recreate and practice the Leave No Trace Principle to Plan Ahead and Prepare by looking up trail information and conditions ahead of time.

Principals that Israel has always agreed with. She hopes her story will serve as a reminder to others to always be respectful of animal habitat when recreating.

“I think we as human beings really really need to reevaluate since COVID how we’re in the woods and how we’re relating to the animals that own the woods… it’s their territory,” said Israel.

Israel must undergo reconstructive surgery on her wrist and will likely have surgery on her spine as well but is expected to recover.

Please report any moose conflicts to your local CPW office location.

Jamie Leary