Can’t find the moose? try looking a bit more

Moose might be hard to miss, but many wildlife watchers are looking in the wrong place. Studies indicate moose avoid even lightly traveled roads and trails.


DON ZIPPERT/Special to The Sentinel

Moose might be hard to miss, but many wildlife watchers are looking in the wrong place. Studies indicate moose avoid even lightly traveled roads and trails.

It would not be hard to make a convincing argument that of Colorado’s mega-fauna, moose are the most popular.

Although only a handful of moose are harvested each year compared with the 45,000 or so elk and 76,000 deer that hunters kill each year, it’s rare to find a big-game hunter who doesn’t covet one of the few limited moose licenses available each year.

Moose might even be more popular among the nonhunting public, evidenced by the calls that come in every time this newspaper runs articles about the successful moose herd on Grand Mesa.

The most common lament is the difficulty of actually seeing a moose, even though the herd is estimated to be 300 moose.

Shiras moose (the subspecies in Colorado) can stand up to seven feet tall and weigh nearly 1,400 pounds, with big noses, long legs and antlers as big as your dining room table, so what’s the problem here?

One possible answer comes from a three-year study done in Alaska and published recently in American Wildlife magazine, the quarterly publication from The Wildlife Society. It suggests moose are particularly careful in avoiding even lightly used backcountry roads and trails.

Even when traffic is less than a quarter mile traveled in a square mile, bull moose tend to stay 500 to 1,000 meters from rural roads while cow moose stay even farther.

The study cautioned wildlife managers to not ignore the impacts of off-road vehicles and expanded road networks. You can presume this includes the road development accompanying energy development.

So, to see a moose on Grand Mesa, getting away from roads should improve your odds.

Riverfront Trail markers

Thursday’s story noting the new Emergency Service Markers along the Riverfront Trail should stress in addition to enabling first responders to locate calls for help from trail users, the markers say “emergency services” to reinforce the idea any sort of call for assistance will be answered through the county’s 911 services.

For example: any sort of intimidation from a two-legged or four-legged trail user.

During Thursday’s news conference along the Riverfront Trail, the ceremony was interrupted when two runners passed the conference, their dogs running loose with them.

The two dogs were friendly and curious and stopped only long enough for a sniff or two before rejoining their owners. So it is with the human element on the trail. Most dogs are friendly, although often preoccupied, and go about their business with little ceremony.

But Grand Junction is a big city and sometimes attracts big-city problems. Now, as Katie Steele of the Riverfront Commission noted, it’s comforting to know a bit of security (or proactive defense) is available on one of the state’s more remarkable urban trails.

Mule Deer Foundation expands

The newly launched Uncompahgre Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation will host its inaugural banquet and auction Jan. 26 at the Holiday Inn Express in Montrose.

Ticket are $60 and include MDF membership. Information: Mark Harmon, 970-901-1516.


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