Big animal, big success: Learn about moose on mesa

A moose calf will spend about a year with its mother, until the next calf is born. Despite their benign appearance, cow moose are very protective of their young and will attack when threatened. It’s also handy to remember moose can run up to 35 miles per hour.

A Shiras moose gets a ride in a helicopter sling during a 2009 project to capture and move moose from urban areas near Salt Lake City. Similar techniques were used to capture and transport moose for transplanting to Grand Mesa.

A young Shiras moose, similar to those on Grand Mesa, in velvet antlers while roaming the Wastach Front near Salt Lake City. Many of the moose transplanted to Grand Mesa came from the north-central area of Utah.


Who: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

What: “State of the Moose” public presentation

When: Wednesday, 6 p.m.

Where: Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Northwest Region Office, 711 Independent Ave., Grand Junction

The reintroduction of moose to Grand Mesa has exceeded most expectations, and Wednesday you’ll have the opportunity to learn how, where and why so many of these charismatic ungulates roam Grand Mesa.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hosting a public presentation about the state of the Grand Mesa moose population at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Northwest Regional office, 711 Independent Ave.

Also, expect a discussion on the current status of the relocation project, which began in 2001 when two local residents, former Colorado Mesa University professor Bruce Bauerle and Collbran doctor Roger Shenkel, approached the then-Division of Wildlife with the idea of releasing moose on Grand Mesa.

After several years of study and public meetings, it was decided the mesa could sustain a modest population of this largest member of the deer family.

Using funds from the agency’s game cash account, wildlife managers began relocating Shiras moose to Grand Mesa in January 2005. Eventually, 91 moose were moved to the area from Utah and other areas of Colorado before the transplant phase concluded in 2007.

“It was difficult work,” said JT Romatzke, Grand Junction area wildlife manager for Parks and Wildlife. “But thanks to our sportsmen and our agency’s dedicated professionals, we can say that this is one of our most successful wildlife-management efforts.”

The most recent population estimates put moose numbers on Grand Mesa around 300 animals.

“The project has gone far better than we expected,” Romatzke said. “We encourage the public to attend this presentation and learn more about this fascinating species and about our continuing efforts to maintain a healthy moose population on Grand Mesa for future generations.”

Other partners contributing to the successful project included Safari Club International, the U.S. Forest Service and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

Biologists credit Grand Mesa’s exceptional habitat with enabling the moose population to grow beyond previous expectations.

“The Grand Mesa has truly great habitat for this species of moose,” said Stephanie Duckett, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “In fact, several sets of twins are born each year, a clear sign that they are thriving up there.”

Wednesday’s presentation includes Duckett and other wildlife managers offering information about moose, including a brief history of the species in Colorado, viewing tips and the agency’s plans to maintain a healthy population.

“Moose are magnificent animals, and we’re all fortunate to have healthy population close by,” Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde said. “We want the public to be aware of how we plan to sustain moose on Grand Mesa while also providing hunting opportunities for the sportsmen that were instrumental in funding this project.”


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