Moose draw wildlife watchers to factory stores
SUMMIT COUNTY – A pair of moose munching willows at the Silverthorne Factory Stores is providing visitors with yet another tourist attraction. The two moved into the area sometime Saturday night and were still standing along the shores of the Blue River Monday afternoon.
Moose-watchers flowed nonstop over the pedestrian bridge between the Silverthorne 7-11 and the Nike factory store Sunday. The moose could very well have moved on by this morning, but if they haven’t, wildlife officials say the human visitors are welcome – as long as they keep their distance from the moose.
“There’s not a greater opportunity for people to watch moose than what we have set up right now,” said Kirk Oldham, the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s district wildlife manager. “It is unusual for them to have come down and gotten into that particular space, but wildlife continually amazes us.
“If people get too close to the moose, they certainly risk getting charged or stomped. They’ve very tolerant and complacent, but if you push into their space, they get real ornery.”
Silverthorne code enforcement officer Anne McNelly helped keep some overly enthusiastic people at bay Sunday, telling some families who had put their children fairly close to the creatures for photographs to move back.
“Some people were upset about me ruining their ability to take a close picture,” she said. “Most people were very, very gracious. Today (Monday), the crowd is very local and very aware of what a moose is like.”
Oldham estimates there are a dozen to 20 moose scattered throughout Summit County, and while he commonly gets reports of them in Silverthorne, they don’t typically wander into such public places. They’re often spotted in Ruby Ranch, Mesa Cortina and Salt Lick Gulch.
The male and female moose are likely siblings, Oldham said. Moose typically give birth to one or two calves, and these appear to be no more than two years old and weigh about 500 pounds each. An adult moose weighs more than 1,000 pounds.
The recent heavy snow likely forced them into Silverthorne in a quest for food – in the moose’s case, vegetation. The word “moose” comes from the Algonkian Indian name for the animal, “mons” or “moz,” which, loosely translated, means “twig eater.” Willows, shrubs and aspen are among the animal’s preferred foods.
Oldham expects the nomadic animals will soon move on, but he has no plans to hurry them along.
“We’re just going to let them be,” he said.
For the time being, however, the folks at the Silverthorne Factory Stores couldn’t be happier.
“Everybody (on the store shuttles) is requesting a stop to look at the moose,” said factory stores spokeswoman Jana Rae. “We’ll take that publicity.”
Those who come to watch the moose are urged to leave their pets at home and to use telephoto lenses or binoculars to get close to the animals. While Oldham hasn’t done so yet, the DOW officer said he can cite people for harassing wildlife.
Jane Reuter can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 229, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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