Saturday, April 12 marked the two-week point since a calf moose was found injured along the banks of the Blue River in Silverthorne.
Despite public concerns about a perceived lack of action on the part of local Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials, the youngster appears to be doing well and making a recovery. In recent days, the calf and cow moose have been seen venturing at increasingly greater distances to the north through Silverthorne, but continue to return to the protective sanctuary along the banks of the Blue River.
“He has a very obvious limp, but he’s getting increasingly more mobile every day,” said Parks & Wildlife district wildlife manager Elissa Knox. The cow and calf “have plenty to eat in town and he’s eating, drinking and moving around just like he should be.”
The calf has a lot of factors working in his favor, Knox said, which was why — in addition to the obvious danger of trying to separate it from his mother — local officials wanted to see first if the calf would begin to exhibit signs of a recovery.
Among those positive factors are the fact that the calf sustained a totally closed fracture, meaning there is no break in the skin, which also significantly reduces the chances of an infection. The calf also is still growing, Knox said, which provides a higher chance of recovery than an older moose because his bones are still developing.
Lastly, even though the calf is limping, he sustained the injury in one of his hind legs. The area of the injury is significant, Knox said, because moose carry about 80-percent of their weight on their front legs.
Although the calf appears to be on the mend, Knox said it’s not out of the woods yet.
The Silverthorne Police Department has been assisting Parks & Wildlife officials by closing sections of the Blue River Trail to minimize human interaction. Knox is asking residents to respect those closures and to continue to keep their distances, not just for the moose’s safety, but also for their own. Those who violate the closures could face harassment of wildlife charges.
“Moose are tolerant of people to a point, but they’re beginning to show signs of agitation when people or cars get too close,” Knox said.
In addition, Knox said it is imperative to keep dogs on leashes and under control, which also is a town of Silverthorne ordinance. In the wild, wolves represent the moose’s only natural predator, and although there are no documented packs living anywhere in Colorado, harassment from dogs could make moose especially aggressive.
“There’s a lot of moose activity in Silverthorne in addition to these two by the Blue River,” Knox said. “People can encounter moose anywhere in town including on trails and bike paths, which is why it is so important for the public’s safety to keep dogs on a leash.”
In addition to the injured calf and cow near the Blue River, Knox said a moose sighting was reported last week near Banana Republic at the Outlets at Silverthorne. A second moose was struck by a car on Thursday, April 10 on Interstate 70 between Frisco and Silverthorne.
As a reminder, signs of moose aggression include licking of the snout, ears pinned back and raised hairs on the back, Knox said. A moose walking slowly towards people also should be interpreted as an act or potential act of aggression.
Should anyone encounter a moose in town or on one of Summit County’s many trails, Knox said it is important to stay at a safe distance and make sure the moose has an escape route. Should a moose charge, locals are advised to put something big, like a tree, boulder or a car, between themselves and the animal.