Division of Wildlife sends out moose alert
February 28, 2008
SUMMIT COUNTY ” The Colorado Division of Wildlife is reminding Summit residents and visitors that moose are common … and a little jittery.
“Surprising a moose is never a good idea,” said Kirk Oldham, district wildlife manager for the Grand Lake area.
According to the Division of Wildlife, it is important for people to be aware that moose are generally found in places where willows grow. Willow is the preferred food of moose and tall willow stands provide not only food but protection from danger. People hiking around willow stands should be alert to the possible presence of moose.
Another dangerous situation can occur when people are out with their dogs.
“I would say that 95 percent of the moose incidents I hear about start with someone saying ‘I was walking my dog when …'” added Oldham. “Because wolves are a moose’s main natural predator, moose are extremely aggressive toward dogs, regardless of the dog’s domestic nature.”
One of the most common descriptions for moose attacks occur in areas where people may be hiking, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing with their dogs. Sometimes, people will allow their dogs to be off leash in less populated areas. Because dogs are curious and enjoy the chance to run, they may run into wooded or brushy areas where they are likely to encounter moose.
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“The dog will bark because it’s unsure of what it has discovered,” explained Oldham.
“At first the dog acts brave, but when a thousand pound moose decides to charge the dog, the dog generally turns tail and runs. Unfortunately for the dog owner, when the dog is scared it seeks the protection of its master, generally with an angry moose in tow.”
The Division of Wildlife estimates there are many moose living in Grand and Summit Counties, but exact numbers are hard to determine because of the solitary and reclusive nature of the animals.
Moose can also be found in large numbers in North Park, around Steamboat Springs, in the Laramie River Valley, near Creede and Lake City, and on the Grand Mesa in western Colorado. Moose in smaller numbers are found throughout the central mountains including the Vail area, the Flattops in Garfield and Rio Blanco Counties, the Roaring Fork Valley, Taylor Park north of Gunnison and the NW corner of the state.
If you see a moose in the wild, the Division of Wildlife recommends that you do not approach the animal. View it from a distance and enjoy the experience. If your presence causes the moose to alter its activities, you’re too close. It’s best to leave the area.
Get something large like a rock, a car or a tree in between you and the moose. If you are knocked to the ground, get up. If you’re attacked, fight back.