Moose Lucky Grizzly Chasing Him Near Wyoming State Line Wasn't Really Trying

A former Yellowstone bear biologist who caught video of a grizzly chasing a moose near the Wyoming state line said the moose was lucky the bear opted for a vegetarian option. Grizzlies usually, but not always, have an advantage over moose in a one-on-one fight.

Mark Heinz

June 20, 20245 min read

This image from video shows a large grizzly bear chasing a bull moose through a campground just north of the Wyoming-Montana border.
This image from video shows a large grizzly bear chasing a bull moose through a campground just north of the Wyoming-Montana border. (Wes Larson)

A bull moose that was chased through a Montana campground by a grizzly bear was lucky the bear wasn’t fully committed to turning him into a meal, said the man who took video of the incident.

“I think it was a little half-hearted on the grizzly’s part. I think the bear was looking for the moose to make a mistake, and when the moose ran, the bear decided to chase it,” Wes Larson told Cowboy State Daily.

Larson caught the action on video from inside his car as the moose, and then the grizzly, ran right past.

He’s a bear biologist who previously worked in Yellowstone National Park and still does some freelance biology work.

But his main gig these days is co-hosting the “Tooth and Claw” podcast, covering animal attacks on humans worldwide.

Bear Ended Up Eating Grass

Toward the end of the video, which Larson captured last month and has gone viral this week, the two animals can be seen running down the Soda Butte Campground’s exit road — the moose leading, and the bear almost on its heels.

“Neither one of them is going at a full-out run at that point,” Larson said, indicating that a fight between the two probably wasn’t imminent.

The moose got away unscathed, and the grizzly went for a vegetarian option. Larson said he later saw it eating grass in a nearby field.

The Soda Butte Campground is Just a few miles from Yellowstone and about 10 miles from the Wyoming state line. In 2010, a grizzly attacked three people in that campground, killing and partially eating one.

Moose On The Grizzly Menu

In spring and early summer, grizzlies that have just emerged from their winter dens are after all the calories they can get.

Nutrient-rich, fresh green grass and forbs are on their menu. The carcasses of big game animals that died over the winter are also a vital food source for the bears.

Given the chance, grizzlies will gobble up newborn deer fawns and elk and moose calves. And sometimes, grizzlies will hunt down and kill adult animals.

Though rare, it’s not unheard of for a grizzly to take down a full-grown adult moose, Larson said. And the grizzly in the video was certainly big enough to do it.

“It was a fair-sized bear, probably around 400 pounds, which is a good-sized bear for the Yellowstone ecosystem,” he said.

He wasn’t able to determine the bear’s sex, but thinks it was likely a full-grown boar, or male grizzly.

The moose also looked to be a mature animal, he added.

In the springtime, bull moose might be tempting targets for grizzlies, Larson said. Having just come through winter themselves, the moose are usually thinner “and not as muscular” as they are during the fall.

The bear probably followed the moose for a while, hoping the bull would trip and fall, get boxed into a tight spot or otherwise be put at a disadvantage, he said.

Grizzlies have to be smart about hunting moose because there’s real risk involved for the bears, as moose can deliver bone-shattering kicks.

Grizzlies Use Brute Force

The various apex predators in Yellowstone country — mountain lions, wolves and grizzlies — use different tactics.

A pack of wolves will wear prey down by attacking the hindquarters. Mountain lions favor ambush attacks and usually go for the neck, trying to sever a prey animal’s spine or crush its windpipe.

Grizzlies use sheer brute force, Larson said.

“Grizzlies use their body weight on prey,” he said. “Moose have such a high center of gravity with those long legs and big body. So a bear can use their body weight and bring the moose down, and the moose will have a hard time getting back up.”

Grizzlies also like attacking when moose are in water because that puts the prey at real disadvantage, Larson added.

And even though the grizzly that day didn’t end up dining on moose, it will probably continue to thrive on other food sources. Grizzlies throughout Yellowstone and the surrounding area seem to be doing quite well, this year, he said.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s been a really good year for bears,” Larson said. “People are seeing a lot of bears and a lot of cubs.”

2010 Grizzly Attack In Same Campground

On July 28, 2010, a female grizzly with three yearling cubs attacked three people in three tents in the Soda Butte Campground.

The attacks began at about 2 a.m., when Ronald Singer was bitten in the lower leg through his tent. Then Deborah Freele was bitten on her arms and legs.

Then Kevin Kammer was dragged from his tent, killed and partially eaten by the bear and her cubs.

According to reports at the time, it was thought the bear had attacked the campers out of desperation because she hadn’t been able to find adequate natural food sources for herself and her cubs.

The female bear was killed by wildlife agents, and her cubs were captured and sent to a zoo.

Mark Heinz can be reached at

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter