Moose makes presence known in Vail Village
Don’t moose around
• Female moose can be very protective of their young.
• Male moose can be aggressive, especially during mating season.
• Moose can be aggressive to dogs on- or off-leash.
• If you’re charged, get behind a rock, table or vehicle. If you’re knocked down, get back up — many moose-related injuries are caused when the animals stomp on creatures they attack.
VAIL — People in Vail Village had a big brown visitor Monday — a good-sized female moose. That’s awesome, but it is also potentially dangerous.
Karen Chandler works at the Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate office on Bridge Street. She saw the moose, grabbed her phone and popped outside for a couple of pictures.
“It was literally across the Covered Bridge from our office,” Chandler said. “Then it walked over to the Mountain Haus and just started eating.”
The moose was around Vail until at least midday. Happy Power, a broker at that Slifer Smith & Frampton office, said she saw the moose along Gore Creek when she stepped out for lunch.
Moose don’t frequent Vail Village, but they will make an occasional appearance. A photo of a female moose and her calf in the Vail Village Parking Structure made the social media rounds a few months ago. Given the size of a moose, they tend to attract attention. But Mike Porras, of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said the best thing to do with a moose is view it from a distance.
THEY AREN’T SCARED OF YOU
Those long legs mean moose can move more quickly than you’d expect, Porras said. And, unlike deer and elk, moose tend not to fear humans — or much of anything else, really.
“A moose will stand its ground on a trail — you can’t just shoo it away like an elk,” Porras said.
Given their size, moose can be aggressive. Porras said a female moose with a calf can be very protective. During mating season in fall, bull moose can be even more aggressive.
DOGS INCREASE THE RISK
That aggression can be pronounced in the presence of dogs, whether they’re leashed or not. A Monday press release from the Vail Police Department stated that off-leash dogs can look like wolves to moose. Moose don’t like wolves.
The moose in the Vail Valley probably came from North Park, the vast, open land around the town of Walden.
Bill Andree, a longtime local wildlife officer, said the moose here likely ambled along the Colorado River, then up the Piney River and down again into Vail.
Parts of Vail are actually good moose habitat. The animals tend to prefer areas along streams or in boggy meadows. But moose can, and do, get around.
Moose were all but hunted to extinction in Colorado. Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the 1980s started a re-introduction program, releasing the first animals in North Park. Other releases have followed over the past couple of decades, including on the Grand Mesa and the Flat Tops area north and west of Eagle County. Over the years, moose have thrived in North Park, to the point that there’s a limited hunting season on the animals — given the lack of wolves in the state, hunting is the best way to manage the herd.
Porras said wildlife officials originally estimated that the Grand Mesa could sustain a moose population of between 300 and 400 animals. Moose there have already hit those numbers.
MOOSE ARE ‘PIONEERS’
But moose don’t stay where they’re placed. Those long legs can carry moose a lot of miles in just a few days.
“They’re really pioneers,” Porras said, adding that at least one moose has been spotted in the Black Forest area, in the foothills near Colorado Springs.
Because of that mobility, Porras said people throughout the high country need to be aware of the dangers the animals can pose. That danger goes beyond people and pets to the animals themselves.
“If your actions cause a moose to charge and cause injury, that can also lead to the death of the moose,” Porras said. “That policy applies to all wildlife — including moose, elk and bears.”
The good news is that if people give this and other moose a wide berth, they’ll probably wander around Vail for some time to come.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.