CPW to everyone: leave moose alone (with video)
For Sky-Hi News
Hatcher Edmondson, a junior ranger in Denali National Park, was on patrol when he saved a tourist from a potential moose stomping in the summer of 2018. The skinny 15-year-old was walking along the boardwalk close to the central nexus of the park, when he came across a woman, standing with her phone camera raised high, in between the moose cow and her calf. Seeing that the moose cow’s ears were lowered and her hackles raised, he immediately sprang into action. He tackled the woman out of the way, just as the 1,000-pound ungulate sprinted past them to the other side of the trail, where she reunited with her calf.
Moose roam all over North America, living in the bogs, dense forests and mountains from the Yukon to the Colorado Rockies. Their sturdy bodies, which can grow to weigh over half a ton and soar to almost seven feet tall, are well adapted to wading through deep snow and muddy swamps. They are temperamental creatures, and can grow aggressive during the seasonal rut, when they have calves, or when they feel threatened. If they perceive something as a potential attacker, these giants can charge at speeds of over 30 miles per hour.
In Colorado alone, there are roughly 2,500 moose, and a large population lives in Grand County. At times they wander into towns, like a moose cow and her yearling calf did into Grand Lake on March 11, 2022.
“Moose are common in Grand Lake throughout the year. It’s not uncommon to see them on or near the Grand Avenue Boardwalk, and the swim beach at Grand Lake,” said District Wildlife Manager Serena Rocksund.
But when CPW was notified of their presence and responded to the scene, they noticed some concerning behavior from onlookers.
“…we witnessed people getting dangerously close to the moose and evidence of illegal feeding. Caution and common sense go a long way in preventing injury or death to humans and wildlife,” said Rocksund.
It’s not uncommon, in many Colorado towns, to hear stories of moose charging people who are recreating outside. Yet stories like the following are often the most concerning.
CPW wildlife officers were notified of an abandoned yearling calf bedding down in front of businesses and on porches in downtown Grand Lake. Several reports stated the yearling was being fed and petted by humans. Wildlife officers were able to find the yearling near a residence. Based on its comfort level around humans, they decided to relocate it to a remote location outside of town.
It cannot be stressed enough: moose, especially calves, are not pets, CPW states. The best and only way to view them is from a safe distance. Should you encounter a moose, you should give it space and time to move. Do not attempt to move the moose. Not only is it dangerous, it’s considered harassment and is illegal.
Feeding animals, also illegal, is harmful to their health. Wildlife have complex digestive systems that aren’t adapted to handle human food. When people intentionally place or distribute food that does not naturally occur in the animals’ habitat, such as carrots, birdseed, hay, or salt blocks, it can lead to illness or death for wild animals, according to CPW.
If a moose has its ears laid back, is pawing the ground, licks its snout, or changes its direction to face you, you’re too close and need to back away.
CPW says that a good trick to tell if you’re too close is to extend your arm out as far as it can go and hold up your thumb as though you are giving the moose a thumbs-up. If you can’t cover the moose with your entire thumb, you’re too close and need to slowly back away from the animal.
When enjoying the outdoors or hiking with dogs, remember to keep your furry friends leashed at all times. Moose trying to defend themselves from what they perceive as a predator have been known to stomp dogs. If your dog runs back to you, or you go after your dog in an attempt to catch them, you could be charged by a moose and severely hurt, or worse.
It’s also important to note these tips and rules apply to all wildlife, not just moose. If you see unsafe human behavior such as feeding or harassing wildlife, please report it to your local wildlife office. To find more information on how to safely deal with wildlife, visit the websites of the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand Lake Fire Protection District, and the Town of Grand Lake.
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