Dogs plus moose equals trouble

Parks and Wildlife reminding dog owners of potential danger

Hunters of all breeds, incduing this young Drathaar named Pete, are eager for the 2013/2014 Colorado waterfowl season. The two-part season began Saturday with the first split ending Oct. 9.

Just in case you were wondering, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is cautioning dog owners not to let their pets approach a moose.

Although there are some people who understand that moose do not differentiate between dogs, coyotes and wolves, apparently there are some people who think Fido loves moose and vice versa.

Since early spring, wildlife officers have responded to three human/moose conflicts, including two recent incidents in Grand Lake.

In all three instances, dogs — both on- and off-leash — reportedly spooked the moose before it charged and seriously injured the dog’s owner.

And in the end the moose comes out the loser, getting “put down” for being a wild animal.

“Almost all incidents with aggressive moose involve dogs getting too close to the animal,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Hot Sulphur Springs. “In most cases, a threatened moose will naturally react and try to stomp on the dog. The frightened dog will typically run back to its owner, bringing an angry 1,000-pound moose with it.”

Part of the problem, if you will, is that moose are extremely charismatic, and their numbers have grown to the point where it’s estimated there are about 2,000 of them around the state, many in places never before seen.

In 1978, the former Colorado Division of Wildlife transplanted 12 moose into the area around the town of Walden in North Park. After several more relocations across the western part of Colorado, including the herd now thriving on Grand Mesa, moose have become a prominent species among Colorado’s wide variety of wildlife.

Watching them can be a rewarding and unique experience as long as these largest members of the deer family are given plenty of space and respect.

Female moose, called cows, are very protective of their young, especially in the early summer months.

Bulls will aggressively defend their territories from humans, dogs or other moose any time of year with increased aggression during the late September mating season.

“Enjoy viewing wildlife from a distance by using binoculars, a camera lens or a spotting scope and do not let your dog approach moose or other wildlife,” Watchable Wildlife coordinator Trina Romero said. “A rule of thumb to keep in mind with all wildlife: If the animal reacts to your presence, you are definitely too close.”

Sidener adds that in the interest of safety, people should consider leaving their dog at home if they plan to visit an area where moose are common, even if it is legal to walk a dog in the area.


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