Teton Village resident recovering from being trampled by moose
March 30, 2023
JACKSON - Hannah Garland finds it oddly comforting that she knows which moose trampled her Friday morning.
"Had it been a rogue moose, I would've been constantly living on edge, like 'Are you the one? Are you the one?'" said Garland, 27, who lives in Teton Village, where moose are constant features on the landscape.
But knowing that it was Yellow 72, a collared, suburban moose known for her mangy look, hair loss and springtime tick infestation, allows Garland a bit more certainty in where she directs her fear - and ire.
"This bitch. 72," Garland said. "You swamp donkey."
Before dawn Friday morning, Yellow 72 trampled Garland while she was letting her dog Richard, a 2-year-old mix of border collie, bulldog and boxer, go to the bathroom. The moose knocked Garland to the ground and stomped on her, cracking each of her 24 ribs, fully breaking two, concussing her and leaving her projectile vomiting.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is not, however, planning to kill or relocate the moose.
Garland is OK with that, calling what happened a "freak accident."
"That is the opposite of what I want," she said. "They deserve to be here just as much as we all do."
Moose attacks, while rare, tend to happen at least annually in Jackson Hole. In 2021 a moose knocked a man to the ground on the bike path northeast of Wilson Elementary School, hospitalizing him. In 2022 a moose knocked 89-year-old Ed Opler to the ground, breaking his scapula. He recovered at home.
Moose, like most wildlife, can be defensive when threatened, particularly when people get too close.
But Game and Fish spokesman Mark Gocke drew a common thread between the three incidents.
In each case, people were walking their dogs.
"Dogs just tend to elevate the situation," Gocke said.
"I'm a dog owner, too, and know that they can be unpredictable in their own right, but these dogs are considered a predator and these moose are prey, and they're going to defend themselves," he said.
Gocke said he wasn't trying to place blame and, in Opler and Garland's cases, it didn't sound like anyone "did anything particularly wrong." But both people were blindsided by the charging moose, and both accidents happened when dogs were there. Gocke called on dog owners to use leashes when moose might be around.
"As dog owners, we need to have a higher level of awareness and control of our animals," he said.
Richard, Garland's dog, was off the leash Friday when the duo left the house to let him do his business.
It was shortly after 5 a.m., dark and much earlier than the duo usually go for a walk.
They were in the parking lot outside of Garland's Teton Village condo, and Richard was off somewhere in the dark. She started to call for him, and then heard a commotion to her right. The moose was charging her.
"She head butted me in the back of the head, got me on my back and stomped on my ribs," Garland said.
Garland doesn't know exactly how many times the moose stomped on her.
"A lot of things happened really quick at that moment," she said. But she described the tramping as a "pitter pattering."
"If she would have fully stomped, my organs would have exploded," Garland said.
She started screaming and, when the moose backed off, grabbed Richard, who she thinks had been hiding underneath a nearby car during the commotion. She turned around and ran back to her apartment, where she woke up a friend sleeping on their couch and her roommate. Shortly after, she started vomiting.
"It was just adrenaline mom strength," Garland said. "It wasn't until I got inside that I collapsed."
Garland has a concussion and a softball-sized knot on the back of her head. All of her ribs are cracked, and two are fully broken. Her elbow, which slammed on the ice when she fell, is KT taped to relieve pain.
It should take about six weeks for her to fully heal, Garland said.
In the meantime, she's bedridden, having a hard time walking inside, and asking friends to take Richard for his daily jaunts.
Garland is not, however, allowing anyone to walk him after dark, particularly since Yellow 72 is still around.
The moose was collared last winter in the Teton Village area. Since then she's developed a reputation for her shaggy condition. Last spring she was one of the moose Troy Koser, a Montana State University Ph.D. ecology student, followed to study the effect of winter ticks on moose in Jackson Hole. Yellow 72 winters in Teton Village and summers farther up on the ski hill. But she doesn't really leave that area.
Until Friday she also hadn't had any run-ins with the law.
"It doesn't have a history of aggressive behavior or anything like that," Gocke said.
For now, Gocke said, the department is monitoring Yellow 72 to see what she does.
Though Garland said she's talked with some Game and Fish officials about the possibility of relocation, Gocke said the department isn't planning to take any action for the time being.
"We deemed it to be normal defensive behavior that was probably elevated by the dog being present," he said.
"I certainly don't fault Hannah," Gocke said. "She was just letting her dog out in the morning, like most of us do, and it can be darn tough to see a moose when it's dark. It was just bad circumstances."
Garland said the neighborhood remains on alert. The day before she was trampled, Garland said, two other women were walking their dogs and cornered by the same moose. Now people are keeping dogs leashed.
Garland is encouraging people to be careful walking around at night, and carry bear spray, which she said Game and Fish has been handing out in the area. She worries about partying college students staying up late and other Teton Village visitors getting up early to go to the airport and having a similar run-in.
She's looking forward to "walking around comfortably" and getting back outside with little Richard, though Garland thinks she'll be on edge for a while walking her dog around her home. She won't be doing that in the dark.
But, as a 17-year valley resident who just found secure housing in Teton Village, she's not leaving.
"I'll take a moose beating for secure housing any day," Garland said.
This story was published on March 29, 2023.