Moose makes his way through North Rifle |

Moose makes his way through North Rifle

Contributed Photo
Staff Photo |

It may not have been Bullwinkle the moose who wandered through part of Rifle on Thursday, Sept. 26, but he seemed to attract as much attention.

The moose was originally reported to the Garfield County Emergency Communications Center as heading south on Coal Mine Avenue by a school bus driver, said Rifle Police Department Community Service Office Dawn Neely. The moose, a young bull, then ran along and crossed Colorado Highway 13 in front of Valley Lumber, scrambling through traffic, then hopping the guard rail to run down and cross the ditch before running down Meadow Circle.

“He leaped in and out of yards on Ute Avenue [near 26th Street] and Meadow Court,” Neely wrote in an email. “He stayed there until [Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers] arrived and drove him from the neighborhood using bean bags.”

Neely added there were numerous sightings later Thursday night and Friday morning throughout the city. A photo of the moose was even posted on Facebook.

Moose are one of the state’s most popular wildlife species and their numbers are growing. In 1978, the former Colorado Division of Wildlife transplanted 12 moose around the town of Walden in North Park. After several more relocations across western Colorado in the following years, their population is now estimated at over 2,000 animals.

Between 2005 and 2007, 91 moose were relocated to the Grand Mesa to establish a self-sustaining moose herd. Each of those moose were fitted with a numbered ear tag and a radio transmitter. Since release, 42 of the telemetered moose have died, according to the Parks and Wildlife web site. The moose have also ventured east into the Crystal River Valley.

The population of the moose on the Grand Mesa is growing quickly and was estimated to be approximately 380 moose in fall 2012, which is within the objective population range, the web site noted.

Parks and Wildlife spokesman Mike Porras said he did not believe the agency can say exactly where the moose came from before he wandered into Rifle.

“Our moose population is doing very well across western Colorado,” he wrote in an email, “so moose may appear in areas where only a few years ago you would not see one.”

Porras added that late September is moose rutting season, so bull moose are especially active and aggressive. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials recently reminded outdoor enthusiasts that moose can be aggressive when dogs and humans get too close. Since early spring, at least three human/moose conflicts were reported in the Colorado high country. In all three instances, dogs — both on and off-leash — reportedly spooked the moose before it charged and seriously injured the dog’s owner.

Moose in Colorado have very few natural predators and they are not generally frightened by humans. However, state wildlife officials caution that the large ungulates see dogs as a threat due to their similarities with wolves, their primary predator. Wildlife officials caution that dogs should never be allowed to approach a moose.

Some safety tips from wildlife officials regarding moose:

• If you encounter a moose, signs that it is agitated by your presence and may charge include a lowered head, ears pinned back, raised hackles, swaying back and forth and licking its snout.

• In some cases, moose may not give any warning that it may charge and it is up to you to be aware of your surroundings. Leave the area as quickly as possible and avoid cornering the animal.

• If the moose charges you, run away as fast as possible and try to put a tree, vehicle or other large object in between you and the moose. If you are knocked down, get up and try to get away. Do not stay on the ground.

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