Moose are cool critters from a distance, but after a recent close call, Colorado Parks and Wildlife wants to remind people to give them a wide berth, especially in spring, when they're especially watchful during calving season.
The moose population is thriving in Colorado and as the number of moose rise, so does the chance for human interaction with them.
“In Black Forest we have a moose who has been around for several years,” said District Wildlife Manager Sabrina Hurwitz. “She seems pretty happy here and we'd like to keep it that way.”
Recently the moose charged at someone in the area who was walking a dog. No one was injured but Hurwitz said it's a good time to remind people to stay alert and be on the lookout for wildlife.
Moose are not typically aggressive but they do not fear humans and will defend their young and their territory. Dogs can provoke attacks because of their resemblance to wolves, a moose's only natural predator. People hiking in moose country are encouraged to keep their dogs on a leash. A charging moose will likely follow a dog running back to its owners and can end up injuring them as well. Moose can grow up to 1,200 pounds and can run up to 35 miles per hour.
“Even though the dog was on a leash in this instance it still was able to get close enough to spook her,” said Hurwitz. “Luckily, everyone came out of the situation unhurt, including the moose.’”
Wildlife managers caution that when humans are injured by wildlife, it can result in the euthanasia of the animal, regardless of the circumstances.
“No one wants to be responsible for the needless death of an animal that was just following its instincts,” adds Hurwitz.
If you encounter a moose, here are some tips to keep in mind:
—Give them plenty of room—enjoy viewing wildlife from a distance!
—If an animal reacts to your presence, you're too close.
—Keep pets away. Never let your dog approach a moose.
—Look for signs that the moose is agitated: raised hackles, lowered head, ears pinned back, swaying back and forth, licking its snout.
—If you see any of those signs, leave the area as quickly as possible and avoid cornering the animal.
—If a moose charges, run away and try to put a tree, vehicle or other large object between you and the moose.
—If you are knocked down, get up and try to get away. Do not stay on the ground.
Moose are fascinating animals and have become a prominent species among Colorado's wide variety of wildlife. Watching them can be a rewarding and unique experience as long as they are given plenty of space and respect.
For more information and tips about moose watching, visit Colorado Parks and Wildlife's Moose Country article at http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlifeMoose.aspx