A hunter may have illegally killed a bull moose near Silverthorne Oct. 22, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are looking for information.
Several people hiking along the Gore Range and Rock Creek/Pebble Creek Trail - a popular trail roughly 7 miles north of Silverthorne - reported that they encountered a hunter who told them he had shot a bull moose by mistake, but the individual has yet to report the incident to wildlife officers.
"The hikers told us that the hunter confessed to them, but he has yet to call us," district wildlife manager Shannon Schwab. "We have a description, we have witnesses, we have items that this person left behind and we're making every effort to find him, but it would be better for him if he turns himself in."
Schwab says that wildlife managers understand that accidents can happen and officers will take prompt reporting into consideration when assessing fines. It is a hunter's responsibility to identify their target and Schwab says hunters have an ethical responsibility to notify authorities as soon as possible if they make a mistake in the field.
"We would like to hear from this person, or from anyone else who knows who he is," Schwab said.
To provide information as a witness or individual who spoke with the hunter, call Schwab at (970) 485-3081. Callers wishing to remain anonymous can contact Operation Game Thief toll-free at (877) 265-6648. Operation Game Thief offers a reward if a tip leads to a citation.
Hunting season is now in full swing throughout Colorado. Although most hunters have been safe and careful in the field, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are reporting that accidental moose kills continue to occur despite the agency's educational efforts.
So far this year, northwest region wildlife managers have investigated nine possible accidental moose kills, with seven of these incidents remaining unsolved to date. They also report an unexpected increase in accidental mule deer kills by hunters holding elk licenses.
More than 300,000 hunting licenses are sold in Colorado each year and mistaken kills are infrequent. However, it's the hunter's responsibility to identify the target before pulling the trigger.
Although the animals are similar, there are stark differences that a hunter should be able to recognize, officials say.
For example, elk travel in herds, have branched antlers, pointed snouts and are easily spooked. Moose usually travel alone, or in small groups, have palmated antlers, bulbous noses and do not spook easily. Moose fur is dark brown, while elk fur is a lighter brown, but is darker at the head and rump.