Moose population not hiding |

Moose population not hiding

Steamboat Springs residents report several sightings of animals

Jack Weinstein

Frost clings to the fur of a moose off Bear Drive near Mount Werner last week. The moose was chewing on nearby branches and didn’t seem bothered by the snow or cold.

Frost clings to the fur of a moose off Bear Drive near Mount Werner last week. The moose was chewing on nearby branches and didn't seem bothered by the snow or cold.
John F. Russell

— A number of moose have been sighted recently in residential and public areas throughout Routt County.

Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, said the number of moose in the region hasn't necessarily increased. He said the recent sightings are a continuation of reports received by the Division of Wildlife in the past few years.

"Overall, I'd say our moose population is growing, but I haven't seen anything I haven't expected to see in town," Haskins said.

He said moose have been spotted in residential areas near Steamboat Ski Area, Walton Creek, Fish Creek Falls and Soda Creek, and in North Routt near the Elk River and Hahn's Peak. Haskins said moose sightings also have been reported on Buffalo and Rabbit Ears passes, and along the Yampa River Core Trail.

In some cases, Haskins said, moose have stayed in the same area for hours before moving on.

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Moose are drawn to tributaries, places with willow trees, brush and exposed grass, and areas that have cover, Haskins said.

Despite frequent sightings, Haskins said there haven't been any incidents reported involving moose interacting with humans or other animals.

He said moose aren't afraid of humans, but that doesn't mean they won't get aggressive if they're approached too closely. And moose will chase dogs, Haskins said.

"Moose are very approachable," he said. "They don't run off. People get this idea they're safe or something to approach, and they're not."

Lately, Haskins said, people have been taking pictures of moose, which is fine. He said not to get too close. With a moose, that's a good way to get in trouble, he said.

Haskins said he's more concerned about moose interaction with humans than he is about bear interaction with humans. He said bears often run away while moose stay put. As the snow continues to fall and it's more difficult for moose to travel, Haskins said, he expects more sightings along the Core Trail and other cleared paths.

Moose will travel, he said, but they'll take the path of least resistance.

Haskins said it's not likely a moose would give up a path. He advised anyone who sees a moose to turn around and walk away, especially if they have a dog with them.

He said the only recent report of an aggressive moose was after a man got too close.

"The big thing is to have respect for them," Haskins said. "The fact they don't run away, don't assume that's a sign you can approach them."