Sightings in southwest Colorado were more frequent this year
With a healthy moose population in southwest Colorado, interactions between moose and humans are inevitable.
Colorado parks and wildlife officials are warning residents to leave room for animals and to be cautious of huge mammals.
“It’s not uncommon for young bulls, in particular, to come out for a walk,” said Steve McClung, deputy director of wildlife for the CPW region. “They are old enough to leave their mother and the region where they were born and start looking for their own territory.”
In September, CPW moved a young bull moose from downtown Durango to the San Juan National Forest.
Sightings in San Juan County and southwest Colorado have been more frequent this year, with more moose roaming the city and spending longer periods there, according to a press release from CPW.
Two 6-month-old moose calves have been seen frequently around Silverton this fall after they were orphaned earlier this summer.
Their mother was hit by a nearby car and the young bull and cow remained in town, wandering the sidewalks, roads, and backyards.
“It is likely that these two calves will be in the city during the winter,” Adrian Archuleta, the area’s wildlife manager, said in a press release from CPW. “We expect them to stay together somehow, and then hopefully move away further into the highlands next spring when the snow begins to melt and there is more. food and land more abundant elsewhere for them. “
Although residents saw the two calves settling around Silverton due to extraordinary circumstances, moose have gradually expanded their presence in southwest Colorado.
“They seem to be doing well and their numbers seem to be increasing steadily,” McClung said.
According to CPW’s population estimates for 2020, 460 elk live in southwest Colorado out of 3,180 across the state. Their range extends north to Lake City, east to Creede, west to Silverton and south to Weminuche Wilderness.
Although moose have been “reintroduced” to Colorado, moose were historically transient and never established a breeding population in the state, according to CPW.
CPW first introduced 24 moose from Wyoming and Utah to North Park in Jackson County in 1978 to start a breeding population. The move was successful and for the past three decades CPW has continued to transplant moose statewide.
In 1991, CPW imported moose to southwest Colorado for the first time. From 1991 to 1993, CPW moved 93 moose from Wyoming, Utah, and North Park to the upper Rio Grande River Valley and Mineral and Hinsdale counties.
As the population more than quadrupled, moose spread throughout the region, and a few moose from southern Colorado made their way to New Mexico.
“They can stray quite a distance from what one would think is suitable habitat, especially these young bulls,” McClung said.
Moose wandering habits can be dangerous. So far this year, moose have attacked five people, according to CPW.
“Moose react to dogs the same way they would react to a predator in the wild,” Brandon Dye, CPW district wildlife manager, said in the press release. “While these city moose, especially the two calves, may appear relatively docile or docile, it’s important to remember that they are wild animals and can be unpredictable and extremely dangerous.”
Moose can be particularly aggressive in defending their young. Laid ears, hair on the neck and licking the muzzle are all signs of aggression, according to the CPW website.
People should give the moose as much room as possible, said McClung and Dye. If you are taking a photo, use the zoom.
“Caution and common sense go a long way in preventing potential problems with moose,” says the CPW website.
“Don’t come near. Keep your distance, ”McClung said. “If you have a dog, it’s best to be on a leash. If he goes and starts chasing a moose, often the moose will kill or injure the dog or the dog will come back to his handler and bring the upset moose with him.
For the two Silverton moose calves, it’s especially important to limit human interactions to ensure they stay wild as much as possible.
Dye said the hope is that they will migrate naturally from the city without human intervention. He will continue to monitor the calves for the sake of public safety.