Muskox Safety

Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve

Muskoxen are some of the easiest large animals to see since they are slow moving grazers that are found in groups. As with all animals in Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve, please keep your distance. Muskoxen are wild animals and can pose a threat to humans.

Staying Safe around Muskoxen

  • Respect a muskox’s space. Muskoxen are surprisingly tolerant of people and it’s possible to get quite close to one, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea (or legal). Always stay at least 100 metres from a muskox.
  • As with any wild animal, don’t approach a female with a calf. Even the normally docile muskox will fiercely protect their young.
  • Male muskoxen are more aggressive during the mating season, from August to October. Take special care to avoid a bull in rut.
  • When they are agitated or feel threatened, muskox will charge, so pay attention to their body language. If a muskox stops what it is doing, it has noticed you. When they feel threatened, a muskox group will form a defensive line facing you, and sway their heads back and forth. If you observe this behavior, it’s time to stage a retreat.
  • If you are charged by a muskox, RUN and try to find cover behind strong trees or boulders. Never stand your ground against a charging muskox.
  • Keep your dogs under control if a muskox is near. Wolves are the muskox’s natural predators, and they see dogs as a similar threat. An agitated muskox can easily injure or kill a dog, so make sure your dogs are on a leash if muskoxen are around.

If you are injured or even just approached by a muskox, report it to Parks Canada staff or Łutsël K’é Dene First Nation staff, including the Ni Hat’ni Dene Rangers. Your information can improve safety for future visitors and traditional harvesters.

Special thanks to US National Park Service, Cape Krusenstern National Monument for sharing content.

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