Respect the unpredictable Colorado moose

David Heitz
Colorado Parks and WIldlife

Newcomers to Colorado no doubt do a double take the first time they hear a moose warning on the morning weather report.

From the high country, moose will wander down into mountain towns during storms. They are not scared of humans but can behave very unpredictably around them. Moose have been known to charge someone who gets a little too close for a picture.

Moose can be especially aggressive during the fall mating season. There have been five moose-related accidents this year in Colorado. “On Sunday, Aug. 29, Colorado Parks and Wildlife responded to a call of a woman injured in an attack by an aggressive moose near Winter Park,” according to a news release.

Wildlife officers said the victim, a woman from Boulder, was injured between 4:30 and 5:30 a.m. while walking in the dark on the Little Vasquez Road (USFS Road 156) just west of Winter Park.

Woman played dead so moose would show mercy

“The woman said the moose knocked her down twice,” according to the news release. “After the second attack, the woman told officers she played dead, and the moose left. She hiked out on her own and went to the medical center in Granby where she was treated for injuries to her back, leg and wrist.”
A moose among Aspens.David Hannigan/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials believe the woman walked right into the moose in the dark. “She was walking in good moose habitat without a light in the dark, so we suspect she walked right into the moose,” said area wildlife manager Jeromy Huntington. “Trails next to water often make for a great hiking experience, but they’re also often near great moose habitat. Hikers should choose routes with good visibility and be extra cautious when walking in close proximity to willows and thick habitat.”

Viral video shows bull moose go on rampage

Other moose attacks in Colorado this year included an incident on Aug. 25, when “a 62-year-old New Mexico man was attacked by a bull moose while running with his two dogs on a trail on the west side of Winter Park,” according to the news release.

A 79-year-old woman was attacked by a cow moose and severely injured on Friday, Aug. 13, around 9 p.m. in a rural area outside a home south of Glenwood Springs,” the news release continues.

And “On Saturday, Aug. 7, a man walking along a willow bottom heading towards a lake in Clear Creek County was charged by a bull moose he just happened to come across,” according to the news release. “The viral video shows just how quickly a moose can decide to charge on a person. That man came away uninjured as he dived behind a tree, which the bull moose hit.”

Thousand-pound moose can run 35 mph

In a YouTube video, Colorado Parks and Wildlife offers tips for avoiding conflicts with moose. The animals weigh a thousand pounds and stand six feet tall at the shoulders. They can run up to 35 mph.

According to district wildlife manager Elissa Slezak, “Each year more people are attacked by moose and moose are one of the most unpredictable and dangerous animals in our state.”

She said the moose have become more common in busy mountain towns, tourist spots and even Front Range suburbs such as Broomfield.

Give moose right of way, keep dogs away
David Hannigan/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Slezak advises in the video to keep dogs away from moose. Coyotes are natural predators of the moose. The beasts will charge and trample a dog if they feel threatened and follow the dog back to its owner.

“Always give a moose the right of way on a trail or road,” Slezak urged. And never feed the animals, which is illegal in Colorado. Feeding moose lures them into residential areas.

“They may need to be euthanized for public safety,” Slezak said of Moose that become friendly but still unpredictable through feeding.

If you ever see a moose lick its snout, pin its ears back or raise its hackles, know it is about to attack, Slezak explains in the video.

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I've been in the news business 35 years, spending much of my career in editing roles at local newspapers in Los Angeles, Detroit, and the Quad-Cities of Illinois and Iowa. Upon moving to Denver in 2018, I began experiencing severe mental illness due to several traumatic experiences. I became homeless on the street for about a year before spending time in the state mental hospital. I am living proof that people can rebound from mental illness with proper treatment, even after experiencing homelessness. I consider myself a lucky guy to live in a great place like Denver. I hope my writing reflects the passion I have for living here.

Denver, CO

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