Steamboat cow moose likely died of natural causes
March 4, 2019
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A cow moose died Friday in Steamboat Springs, attracting the attention of onlookers on a busy street near the base of Steamboat Resort.
On Friday, Steamboat Springs Police Department officers were called to a report of people throwing objects at a cow and calf moose in the 2300 block of Apres Ski Way.
When they got there, an officer saw the cow was having trouble standing. The moose got up and moved closer to the entrance of the Ironwood Townhomes, according to Sgt. Shane Musgrave.
The moose bedded down again, rolled over on its side and made several more unsuccessful attempts to "sit up."
"It appeared to have a seizure of sorts and threw its head back in an unnatural position," Musgrave said. Then it died.
A Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer took the cow's body to his home jurisdiction in Walden, where he conducted a field necropsy to determine what contributed to the animal's death, Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said. The cow likely died of natural causes, but Middledorf said the agency cannot determine an animal's cause of death without examination from a veterinarian.
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There were no signs of trauma. The animal did not exhibit symptoms of chronic wasting disease, and its internal organs appeared normal, Middledorf said. The moose was in poor body condition and had low body fat.
The wildlife officer pulled a tooth, which will be tested to determine the animal's age.
Wildlife officers are trained to recognize the signs of trauma in big game, such as an injury sustained in a vehicle collision, Middledorf said.
"We don't see anything that would tell us it was poached or someone shot it or anything like that," he added.
Middledorf said Parks and Wildlife on Wednesday helped move the same pair of moose away from the parking area where they were spotted later in the week. At that time, the cow had a limp as it first stood up, but it moved normally afterward.
Middledorf said the cow was wearing a Parks and Wildlife GPS collar.
The moose calf is still roaming. Middledorf said, though it's a young animal, at about 10 months old, it will be able to fend for itself.
"It really is capable of carrying on its life function without its mother," he said. "Certainly, it'll be a challenge for any young animal, as we're getting to the end of winter."
Whatever killed the cow moose, Musgrave recommends staying away from wildlife, particularly moose.
"Be cautious of all wildlife, especially moose," he said. "They are wild animals, and they are unpredictable and may attack you.