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Alaska man killed in moose attack was trying to take photos of newborn calves, troopers say

A moose on the loose in Alaska
A moose on the loose in Alaska 01:14

A 70-year-old Alaska man who was attempting to take photos of two newborn moose calves was attacked and killed by their mother, authorities said Monday.

The man killed Sunday was identified as Dale Chorman of Homer, said Austin McDaniel, a spokesperson for the Alaska Department of Public Safety.

The female moose had recently given birth to the calves in Homer.

"As they were walking through the brush looking for the moose, that's when the cow moose attacked Dale," McDaniel said.

The attack happened as the two were running away, he said. The second man, who has not been publicly identified, was uninjured.

That person did not witness the attack, so authorities cannot say if the moose killed Chorman by kicking or stomping him, or a combination.

Medics pronounced Chorman dead at the scene. The cow moose left the area, Alaska State Troopers said in an online post.

The Anchorage Daily News reported that his son, Nathan Spence-Chorman, wrote on social media that his father "died on his property, tromping through the woods with a dear friend, in pursuit of a great photograph."

"Dale was highly experienced around wildlife. He was intimately familiar with nature, and had no naivete about its danger. This was not a hapless fool stumbling into danger — this was a person who went out looking for a great photo, knowing the risks, and got caught in a dangerous moment," Nathan Spence-Chorman wrote, according to the newspaper, adding: "The moose, obviously, is not at fault."

Alaska Fatal Moose Attack
Homer, Alaska, and the Homer Spit, jutting out into Kachemak Bay, is seen on June 9, 2021. Alaska State Troopers say a 70-year-old Homer man attempting to take photos of newborn moose calves was attacked and killed by the calves' mother in Homer on Sunday, May 19, 2024. Mark Thiessen / AP

In 1995, a female moose stomped a 71-year-old man to death when he was trying to enter a building on the campus of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Witnesses said students had been throwing snowballs and harassing the moose and its calf for hours, and the animals were agitated when the man tried to walk past them. That moose was killed by wildlife officials.

There are up to 200,000 moose in Alaska, a state with a human population of about 737,000.

The animals are not normally aggressive but can become so if provoked, according to the state Department of Fish and Game's website.

A cow moose will become very protective over young calves and will attack humans who come too close, the department says.

"Calving season for moose is the time when you definitely want to give them extra space," McDaniel said. "Cow moose with calves are going to be some of the more aggressive moose you're going to come in contact with."

People should not spook the animals or get between a mother and her calves, he said.

"Those moose will become unpredictable and work to protect their calves at any cost," McDaniel said.

The largest of the deer family, a small adult female moose can weigh up to 800 pounds, while a large adult male can weigh twice that, according to Fish and Game. The animals can stand almost 6 feet tall.

Last September, a moose attacked and injured a woman and her dog in Colorado. Authorities said the cow moose headbutted the woman and stomped on her multiple times. Just days before that, a moose in Colorado charged and trampled a hiker whose dog started barking at the animal while walking along a trail.

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