Iditarod Rookie Describes 'Most Horrific 24 Hours of My Life'

Bull moose attacked Bridgett Watkins' dogs for nearly an hour during a training run
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 8, 2022 4:48 PM CST
They Were Training for the Iditarod. Then, an Attack
In this photo provided by Iditarod rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, a moose stands over her dog team on trails near Fairbanks, Alaska, Feb. 4, 2022. The moose attacked Watkins' dog team for over an hour during a training run, seriously injuring four before a friend shot and killed the moose.   (Bridgett Watkins via AP)

A woman training for the Iditarod in Alaska on Friday says she and her sled dogs withstood a harrowing, hour-long attack—not by a bear, but a bull moose. The state's Department of Fish and Wildlife says more moose-related injuries are logged each year than those inflicted by bear, and KDVR reports Bridgett Watkins took to Facebook to describe "the most horrific 24 hours of my life." In her post, the Iditarod rookie explains that while on a 52-mile run "a very large healthy bull moose" charged her group. Field & Stream reports she was training with assistance from a friend who was riding a snowmobile.

"I emptied my gun into him and he never stopped, I ran for my life and prayed I was fast enough to not be killed in that moment. He trampled the team and then turned for us and charged us humans who sought refuge beside our machine. He stopped a mere 2 feet in front of our snow machine." She managed to cut the six dogs that had been running with the snowmobile free, but those attached to the sled were trampled repeatedly over the course of nearly an hour. "He would not leave us alone and he even stood over top of the team refusing to retreat."

The ordeal only ended when a friend who lives nearby managed to reach them and shoot the animal dead. She describes what some of her dogs suffered, including a major head injury, internal organ damage, and a badly broken rear leg. Her post ends with: "musher advice; carry a bigger gun." In a follow-up post Sunday she writes of a true miracle, with the worst-injured dog now awake and eating on his own, meaning it appears no lives were lost. She adds, "I want you all to know I am NOT giving up. I am not throwing in the towel, I will not let this break me. ... We are 4 weeks away from leaving the start line- I will give it my ALL to get there." The 2022 Iditarod begins on March 5. (More animal attack stories.)

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