Managing moose: Ungulates roaming successfully since 2005 on Grand Mesa
Recent moose news from the Colorado Division of Wildlife says at least 150 of the large ungulates are roaming Grand Mesa in what appears to be a successful reintroduction.
Starting in 2005, the DOW moved 91 moose (56 cows and 35 bulls) to several release sites on the mesa.
Since 2006, an estimated 65 calves have been born on the mesa, according to DOW terrestrial biologist Stephanie Duckett.
Since not all of the cows are wearing radio collars and can’t be tracked, there might be at least 45 more calves that haven’t been seen, Duckett said.
Since their initial drop-off, most of the moose have managed to stay around the primary release areas of Skyway, Buzzard and Muddy creeks.
A few have wandered off, as moose tend to do, and now moose are seen in the Leroux Creek and Crystal River drainages and the Battlements.
All 91 original moose were radio-collared, but today only 23 cows and two bulls are being tracked as the rest of the collars (at least on those animals not known to have died) have either fallen off or their batteries have expired.
Duckett wrote in the update that of the 26 known moose deaths, at least seven have been killed by vehicles and two have been illegally killed by hunters.
A testament to the quality of the habitat on Grand Mesa is the recent finding that the moose are reproducing at the average of 79 calves per 100 cows over the past two years. This year, 23 cows were seen with 19 calves.
If you’re curious about seeing moose, you might first check aspen stands between 7,500 and 9,500 feet, since that’s where about 25 percent of all moose sightings have been recorded.
Moose also prefer Gambel’s oak and mountain shrub communities, with only 5 percent of the sightings occurring in riparian or willow habitats.
The DOW’s initial management plan for the seven Game Management Units on Grand Mesa (41, 42, 43, 411, 421, 52, and 521) includes hunting once the herd reached a particular size.
Last year was the first year of the hunt, and two hunters each harvested a bull moose, both coming out of GMU 41. Both of those moose had originally been translocated from herds in Utah.
Among the research projects still ongoing is one on the impacts of energy development on Grand Mesa. Some of that information may be available this spring, Duckett said.
Unplugged shotguns OK’d for light goose season: Snow goose hunters this year may use “unplugged” shotguns — guns capable of holding more than three shells — during the special conservation order season opening Monday.
Unplugged shotguns were approved last year by the Colorado Wildlife Commission but the regulation change was unintentionally omitted from the 2009 Colorado Waterfowl Brochure.
The DOW reminds hunters that unplugged shotguns are permitted only during the Light Goose Conservation Order season. Replace those plugs before next fall’s waterfowl season.
Also permitted only during the light goose season are unlimited bag limits, extended hunting hours and electronic calls.
The special light-goose season runs Monday through April 30 in all areas east of Interstate 25.
State wildlife area honors late outdoor writer: The Colorado Wildlife Commission Thursday considered naming a stretch of the South Platte River between Spinney Mountain and Eleven Mile reservoirs, commonly referred to as “The Dream Stream,” the “Charlie Meyers State Wildlife Area.”
The move honors the late Denver Post outdoor writer who passed away Jan. 5. Meyers was an avid angler and hunter and an unstinting advocate for sportsmen and wildlife.
Errata: The recruiting interviews for new members of the Grand Valley Wildlife Rescue Group will be 6 p.m. on Wednesday (not Tuesday, as earlier reported) at the Division of Wildlife’s Northwest Regional Service Center, 711 Independent Ave.
The Wildlife Rescue Team assists the DOW by responding to calls regarding orphaned and injured wildlife and the transporting the animals to veterinarians or shelters.