Of moose and men: Leave moose alone
VAIL — The moose cow and two calves that have been wandering around Vail much of this summer aren’t going anywhere — if humans will just leave the big ungulates alone.
Someone, apparently an Avon resident, a few days ago started a petition on the Change.org website to “Relocate the Vail Moose family instead of putting Mom and 2 calves down.” The problem is, there were never any plans to do anything to the moose.
In fact, Colorado Parks and Wildlife was unaware of any plans to either euthanize or relocate the animals, which have been photographed all over town, from Gore Creek to the town’s parking structures to residents’ backyards.
Department spokesman Mike Porras said Colorado Parks and Wildlife is the only agency with the authority to put down any wildlife, and there was “never any intent” to euthanize the animals.
In fact, Porras said, the only thing the department might do is relocate the animals — a harder job than it seems, since moose aren’t afraid of humans, and pretty much wander wherever they choose.
As word spread online about the petition — which, as of Friday afternoon, had declared “victory” with 1,083 supporters — the Vail Police Department quickly released a statement basically echoing the state wildlife agency — nobody was talking about euthanizing moose in Vail.
Since the moose have been living relatively undisturbed in Vail for the summer, Porras said wildlife officials aren’t sure if the animals need to be relocated at all. That’s where people come in.
“Our top priority is human life,” Porras said.
If the mother moose injures anyone, then the animals’ fate would become far more precarious.
That’s why Porras stressed time and again over the course of a handful of email messages and phone calls that residents and visitors need to give Vail’s moose family a lot of space.
Mothers are always protective of their offspring, and moose are no exception. Porras said the mother moose could harm someone, or a pet, if she believes her calves are in danger. Porras also encouraged hikers to keep their dogs leashed on trails.
Thanks to countless generations of honing their defenses in the wild, moose can’t tell the difference between a wolf and a poodle, and an aggravated moose will do its best to stomp the life out of any canine that comes its way.
“In the case of dogs, their first reaction will be to run back to their owners, and that’s when people can get hurt,” Porras said.
Ironically, Porras said the online petition could actually harm the moose family by drawing more attention to the animals, and attention from humans is the last thing moose need.
So for now, Vail’s moose family is free to do all the things moose do — if the people in town just leave the big critters alone.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.