Moose Kills Alaska Photographer Attempting to Take Photos of Her Newborn Calves

By: Lauren Fokas | Published: Jun 09, 2024

In Alaska’s beautiful rural landscape, hundreds of thousands of Moose roam and are often seen by residents passing through their small towns. These moose are usually calm and keep to themselves, but when they feel threatened, they can and will attack.

In May 2024, one Alaskan man, Dale Chorman, was watching a mother moose and her two calves, trying to photograph their beauty, when the mother attacked and killed him. Chroman’s story is both tragic and important, as people need to understand just how powerful these animals are.

More Than 200,000 Wild Moose Live in Alaska

More than 200,000 Alaskan moose roam the incredible landscapes of the northernmost state. As Alaska is home to only 750,000 human residents, that means there is essentially one moose for every four people.

A mother moose and her calf look directly at the camera while in their natural habitat

Source: Pixels

These moose mostly keep to the wilderness, though they have been known to pass through Alaska’s small towns, so residents are quite used to sharing their spaces with the gentle giants.

Alaskan Moose Are Exceptionally Large

An adult Alaskan moose can weigh from 800 pounds to 1,600 pounds and grow to more than six feet tall. While many people associate large antlers with moose, only the males grow antlers. At first glance, the females may look like very large deer.

A small female moose walks along the side of a snowy road in Alaska

Source: Wikipedia

These moose are certainly a sight to see for visitors and residents alike as their large stature makes them especially unique in the animal world. However, it’s important that people understand that moose can become aggressive when provoked.

Are Moose Dangerous?

Normally, moose are not considered an aggressive animal. That being said, if a moose becomes stressed or feels defensive, they can attack nearby humans. Although the male moose may look more intimidating, the most common kind of moose attack is by a female when she becomes protective of her calves.

A large male Alaskan moose walks along the road as two men run back toward the safety of their vehicle

Source: Reddit

When this occurs, the moose will charge, stomp, and kick any human they feel is a threat to them or their family. They are incredibly strong and their attacks can absolutely be fatal.

Alaska Residents Understand the Dangers Moose Pose

While this may be new information for some who don’t live around moose, Alaskan residents are well-versed in the dangers that these majestic animals pose.

Welcome sign for the town of Homer, Alaska

Source: Wikipedia

In the rural town of Homer, Alaska, residents see moose regularly, and know to keep their distance, especially when the moose is with her calves. Dale Chorman knew this, too, but sadly, he accidentally got too close.

Dale Chorman Died While Trying to Photograph a Mother Moose

In May 2024, 70-year-old Dale Chorman, a resident of Homer, was quietly observing a mother moose and her two calves, trying to photograph their beauty.

A photograph of Dale Chorman standing in front of a large tree

Source: @AKNewsNow/X

Chorman was an avid wildlife photographer, but in a devastating turn of events, the mother felt threatened by his presence and charged him. Chorman was with a friend, and they both ran quickly away from the moose, but sadly, she caught Chorman and attacked.


Alaska State Troopers Pronounced Chorman Dead at the Scene

Because Chorman’s friend was able to get away, he didn’t see exactly how the attack played out. However, when the Alaska State Troopers arrived, they pronounced Chorman dead at the scene.

Two Alaska State Troopers on the scene of an accident

Source: Alaska Department of Public Safety

The authorities then looked for the mother moose and her calves, but they have since reported that she had taken her young ones and left the area.


Chorman’s Family Does Not Want the Moose Harmed

Some who have heard Chorman’s story pressed the local authorities to find and put down the aggressive mother moose. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game told the press, “In this case, we’re obviously very concerned about public safety.”

A mother moose and her calf in a wildflower field

Source: iStock

But that’s not what the Chorman family wants. Chorman’s son, Nate Spence-Chorman, told the press, “The ungulate mother need not die. She was just protecting her offspring.”


Chorman Died Doing What He Loved

Spence-Chorman also wants people to understand that his father was completely aware of the risk he was taking for the photograph.

A photograph with their camera taking a picture in nature

Source: iStock

He explained, “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… he died doing what he loved.”


Mother Moose Are Unpredictable

The truth is that, even though Chorman understood the dangers of photographing a mother moose and her calves, moose become wildly unpredictable when protecting their young.

A large female moose looks directly at the camera

Source: iStock

He may have been watching for signs of aggression, keeping a safe distance, and practicing all other recommended protocols, but it wasn’t enough to protect him from her surprising attack.


Wildlife Photographers Need to Practice Extreme Caution

Although this is only the second fatal moose attack in Alaska in more than 30 years, the state’s Department of Fish and Game says it is a cautionary tale for residents, visitors, and especially wildlife photographers.

A photographer takes pictures of a female moose along the Snake River, Wyoming

Source: George Rose/Getty Images

They warn everyone this summer to be extremely cautious of bears, moose, and any other potentially dangerous animal they come in contact with.


How to Stay Safe in a Moose Encounter

For those who may be near a wild moose this summer, it’s crucial to know the proper safety procedures for a moose encounter. You should talk calmly and make your presence known, then slowly back away in the same direction you came from. However, if the moose follows you, it’s important to hide behind something as quickly as possible or, if you can, get inside a car or building.

A large male moose with antlers in the woods

Source: Depositphotos

Finally, if the moose knocks you to the ground, curl into a small ball and protect your head with your arms. Of course, the best defense is to ensure you never get close enough to tempt them, but as we know from Chorman’s story, wildlife encounters don’t always go according to plan.