Moral of the Story? Don’t Mess With Moose in Colorado
It's not uncommon for moose to end up in the news from some part of Colorado. But it's somewhat uncommon for two moose stories on the same day. This is one of those days.
I didn't know this - though I guess I never have done my moose research - but did you know that the moose is not a native species to Colorado? I always just think of the herds you see when you're headed to Estes Park or elsewhere in the mountains, where they find the most inopportune times to slowly meander across the road, causing traffic jams. They seem pretty in their element to me.
But nope, they're not from here. Currently, there are a bit more than 3,000 moose living in the state. And while the majority of them were born here, their residency began only about 45 years ago, when in 1978, wildlife managers brought a dozen of them from Utah to Colorado to kick off the population here. Like every great immigration story, they got off the truck without a dollar in their pocket and not so much as a "good luck" near Walden, Colorado, left to figure things out for themselves. The following year, another dozen were brought in from Wyoming.
The rest, as they say, is history as the moose population has grown ever since. It's cool to think about, but sometimes the endings of their stories aren't always happy.
For example, Fox31 Denver reported that last weekend a moose was killed after jumping from a second-story deck at the Steamboat Springs ski resort. Colorado Parks and Wildlife says they're not sure why the moose was on the deck or why it appeared to jump, and they're not sure if there was any human interaction that led to its demise. But it does serve as a reminder that they do better in nature and don't mix well with developed areas. The largest moose population in Colorado is in the area around Steamboat Springs, but there are several other pockets across the state where they thrive.
Another instance of a moose run-in happened just Monday morning, where a 58-year-old man was walking his dogs in Coal Creek Canyon in Boulder County and was attacked by a moose defending her calf. The man didn't realize she was there as they made a turn around a corner on the trail. The moose charged him and took him down, then stomped on him a few times.
He was armed and fired two shots into the ground to startle her off, and the moose and her calf ran off into the woods unharmed as the man's dogs ran off in the other direction - presumably for help, or so you'd like to think. Man's best friend, and all.
A neighbor found the dogs after hearing the shots and set off to find their owner, discovering the man laying on the ground with non-life-threatening injuries. He was lucky he wasn't injured worse. But it does serve as a reminder of how powerful an animal the moose is and how aggressive they can be if encountered.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says that they encourage "hikers to avoid thick willow habitat in riparian areas, where moose like to eat and rest, to decrease chances of moose interactions. CPW also urges dog owners to keep their dogs leashed while hiking, and give moose extra space on trails."