Letter: Don’t do what I did: If you encounter a moose on the slopes, leave the area
I have been a regular Summit County visitor for years, usually spending my time at ski resorts during the winter. Last season, I encountered two moose running down the middle of a groomed run at Breckenridge. Having never seen a moose before, I followed them down the rest of the slope until they turned off the trail and trotted away.
Unfortunately, I learned too late what I did may have done the moose harm and put other people in danger. At the time, because others were doing as I was and because the moose didn’t seem to notice me, I thought what I was doing was harmless. I have since learned a lot about moose behavior and, for many reasons, the best way to handle a moose encounter on the slopes.
First, moose detect predators with exceptional hearing and a wide range of vision. This means they are likely to detect humans, even if it isn’t obvious. Second, moose are vulnerable in winter because their plant-based food supply runs low. Doing anything that may cause them to run can waste the energy they need to survive winter.
Finally, moose are responsible for more human injuries than any other wild animal in Colorado. When feeling threatened, they will defend themselves by charging any animal in their vicinity or path of travel. Therefore, doing anything that may lead a running moose closer to humans, even simply following behind it, can put those humans at risk.
For these reasons, when encountering a moose on the slopes, the best thing to do is to stop and, if possible, leave the area. I am sharing this story with the hope that it might educate others and help preserve the safety of both these majestic animals and the people they encounter.