A man hurt near Houston Thursday morning apparently put the wrong foot forward in a close encounter with a pair of moose, after state officials said he kicked one of the animals and was kicked in return.

Ken Barkley, the Mat-Su Borough’s deputy chief of emergency services, said an initial report of a "moose attack" came in at about 10:15 a.m. off West Armstrong Road.

“It was a moose trampled [a person’s] foot,” Barkley said. “It just got their foot.”

Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said the two moose involved – a cow and an older calf – had left the area, after a situation Peters summed up as “man kicks moose, moose kicks man.”

Asked which moose the man had kicked, Peters said, “The cow.”

Ken Marsh, a spokesman for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the man reportedly escaped major injuries in the encounter.

“It sounds like the moose were on a trail and in this case, it sounds like the guy was trying to go through them,” Marsh said. “That’s never a good idea.”

Southcentral Alaska has seen a number of violent incidents involving moose this spring, including a man who had a moose take a swing at him while feeding it off Muldoon Road and a cocker spaniel attacked by a moose in an Anchorage yard.

Marsh noted that moose sightings in Southcentral Alaska are on the rise as cows prepare for calving season in mid-May. Both he and Peters urged people not to approach wildlife, let alone close to the distances involved Thursday.

“I am not a biologist, but as a lifelong Alaskan I would advise people not to go around kicking moose,” Peters said.

Marsh echoed that advice, emphasizing the ungulates’ vastly superior leg strength.

“If you get into a kicking contest with a moose, guess who’s going to win?” Marsh said.

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