Living in moose country
Colorado Parks & Wildlife has in-depth information about living with wildlife in moose country on its website, cpw.state.co.us/.
EAGLE COUNTY — Living in the high country is special, and Colorado Parks & Wildlife is reminding residents and visitors of the importance of learning to co-exist with wildlife.
Among the wildlife flowing through Eagle County is the moose population, which makes for great photographs but can be extremely dangerous.
“When it comes to wildlife — moose especially — watch them from a distance, don’t feed them, don’t harass them and don’t approach them,” said Mike Porras, public information officer with Colorado Parks & Wildlife. “If the animal is reacting to your presence, then you’re too close.”
Colorado’s Shiras moose are the state’s largest big game animal with adults weighing 800 to 1,200 pounds, and the bulls stand up to 6 feet tall at the shoulder.
Up until 20 years ago, moose were hardly seen around the county and the state until relocation and repopulation efforts began. Now, the moose population is thriving thanks to successful reintroduction efforts by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
“In the last five years that I’ve been here at the agency, I have noticed a little bit of an increase in moose sightings and activity,” Porras said, noting that his observations are anecdotal and not study-based.
There have been multiple instances in Eagle County during the past few years where people have been harmed by moose. While moose don’t necessarily attack humans, they will aggressively defend their territory and young, Porras said.
“You could safely say that moose are considered one of the more dangerous animals in the wild,” he said. “They’re large, they’re powerful, they’re not afraid of people and they’ll defend themselves aggressively.”
While humans can learn to know better than to approach the wild animal, dogs are often a catalyst in a lot of the reported conflicts.
“The biggest concern we have is dogs,” Porras said. “Moose see dogs as a natural predator — like a wolf — and they will treat it as such. Their first instinct is to stomp on that dog.”
There have been instances, Porras said, where a moose followed a dog back to its owner and caused harm, sometimes serious, to the human.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s priority is human health and safety. So, if a moose injures a human, then officials have no choice but to put the animal down.
“There are many reasons to stay away from wildlife, and causing the death of that animal is one of the biggest reasons to do that,” Porras said.
Across the county, moose sightings are occurring in our own backyard.
“Well, I look out and there was the young calf walking down the street,” said Mary Jane McEachron, of West Vail. “And then, the mother appeared and they were in the neighbor’s yard.”
In the same area, McEachron said the moose are eating trees and people are taking pictures, getting too close for comfort by her standards.
“It’s very exciting, but I wouldn’t want to go out in the backyard when they’re there,” she said.
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2915 and email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.