Steamboat moose now tracked by satellite
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs residents and visitors might notice some members of the local moose population have a new accessory hanging around their neck.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Nov. 20 started a new research project that involves tracking the movements of the moose using GPS devices attached to collars.
Researchers hope to gain a better understanding of moose behavior with the goal of minimizing conflicts with humans.
This has especially been a concern at the Steamboat Ski Area, where moose could frequently be seen on the packed trails last season.
“They’re obviously extending their range out to the west,” wildlife biologist Jeff Yost said. “It was time to learn a little bit more about how we can manage it.”
Moose are considered one of Colorado’s most dangerous animals when they feel threatened by humans.
In recent years, there have been several cases in the Steamboat area of moose trampling people while they were walking their dogs.
Moose have a tendency to mistake dogs for wolves, which can prey on moose.
Last season at the ski area, wildlife officials were prepared to move a couple of moose that became agitated when people skied by or took pictures of them.
The moose were never moved.
In total, there were seven known moose meandering around the ski area in February.
It was believed the moose had a preference for hanging out at the ski area because of the deep snow in the woods. At the ski area, moose frequented the trails and gladed areas.
Revenue from hunting licenses is being used to fund the multi-year, $50,000 research project.
There were six bull moose and four cow moose sedated from a helicopter in the vicinity of the ski area Nov. 20.
After examining the moose and taking samples, the collars were attached.
The moose were then administered a drug to wake them up.
The collars will drop off the moose at a set time.
So far, 10 moose are wearing the collars, and wildlife officials hope to tag another 10 in the Steamboat area.
“There are a lot of different things we can learn from this,” area wildlife manager Kris Middledorf said.
Researchers are not trying to determine the local moose population.
Instead, they are trying to determine where they go and at what times.
The project is tied into the creation of a moose management plan in conjunction with the U.S. Forest Service and the ski area.
“The scope of the project is much wider,” Yost said.
Yost reviewed the moose tracking data last week.
“Nothing that surprises me at this point,” Yost said. “They’re all in the typical zone where we would expect them to be.”
A mild winter accompanied by relatively low snow depths so far has kept the moose from meandering into town and the packed trails at the ski area.
Yost said the moose they are currently tracking were within a quarter mile to one and a half miles from the ski area last week.
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