Moose attacks increase in Colorado, CPW warns in new video
- Do not attempt to feed moose. Moose are herbivores and are attracted to berries, apples, mushrooms, wildflowers and more. They also have a strong sense of smell that can detect these items if you are carrying them.
- Keep your pets on a leash when hiking in wilderness areas populated with moose. This can help prevent any unwanted encounters between your dog and a moose.
- Distance equals safety: A moose is less likely to feel threatened if watched from a distance.
GRAND JUNCTION — As both human and moose populations increase across Colorado, there is a correlating rise in dangerous interactions between the two.
In response, Colorado Parks and Wildlife created a video to help educate residents and visitors on how to be safe around the moose population, which has grown drastically from a modest 24 in 1978, when the Shiras subspecies was first relocated to Colorado, to nearly 2,500 across the state.
The video, narrated by District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak, of Summit County, offers advice on preventing confrontation with moose, as well as what to do if that confrontation becomes unavoidable.
“Moose do not fear humans so it can lead some to think they are friendly — I assure you they are not,” she said. “Many people get into trouble because moose appear docile at first and don’t run away when people approach, but when a moose has decided you’ve invaded their space they can move very fast and it’s often too late to get away. And when it comes to defending their young, cow moose will protect their calves very aggressively, especially in the presence of dogs.”
HOW DOGS AGGRAVATE MOOSE
Wolves are a notorious predator of moose. When confronted by a dog, moose do not distinguish between breeds. “Moose will often attack even the most gentle dog as if it were a wolf, especially if the dog barks at or chases the moose,” Slezak adds.
Often when a moose becomes aggressive, the dog will retreat, no matter the size. And when the dog retreats, its owner, often a slower runner than the dog, becomes subject of the moose’s aggression.
“We’ve seen several instances where that exact scenario played out and the dog owner was seriously hurt,” Slezak said.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DOCILE AND DEADLY
The overall point is to keep a safe distance from moose so you never have to make such an assessment, though there are telltale signs that things are escalating.
When threatened, moose typically lick their snouts, pin their ears back and raise the hackles on the back of their necks. If you see any of those signs, it is time to start running as fast as possible.
“Get behind a tree, a boulder or a car, then wait for the moose to leave on its own. You won’t be able to ‘shoo’ a moose away, and if you try, it could make the situation worse,” Slezak said.
For more information about moose, visit the CPW website.
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