At Maroon Bells near Aspen, more trail closures forecast if people go too close to moose
There will be more temporary closures of trails in the Maroon Lake area if people don’t start heeding warnings about keeping a safe distance from moose, state wildlife officials and the U.S. Forest Service said Thursday.
There have been numerous closures of various trails in late June and early July, the latest coming Tuesday. Two bull moose were hanging out close to the heavily used Crater Lake Trail and scenic loop trail at the upper end of Maroon Lake. The trails were reopened Wednesday, but officials said more closures could be required “in light of the number of people that have come too close to the growing population of moose that now live in the area.”
“The risky behavior continues despite numerous posted signs warning of the potential danger,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
Officials from the Forest Service and state wildlife experts will meet next week to discuss options for making the area safer for humans and moose. Relocating the moose isn’t an option, according to Perry Will, area wildlife manager.
“The moose are there to stay, so we advise people to enjoy them but to do so responsibly and from a safe distance,” Will said. “Just remember: If the moose changes its behavior in any way because of your presence, you’re too close, and it’s time to back away.”
The agencies have signs posted at the gateway to Maroon Lake warning people about the moose and advising them to stay a safe distance away. There also has been extensive media coverage of the moose. Nevertheless, many visitors are unaware of the issue or choose to ignore it, according to the statement from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Will was upset that a couple from Boston estimated they got within 50 yards of a bull and took its picture as it charged them. They were uninjured and submitted a photo to an Aspen newspaper.
“For some animals, that may be a sufficient distance, but not for moose,” Will said. “These people took a big risk by getting that close. They were lucky they were not injured.”
The moose are at an unfair position in the conflicts with humans because the moose will be destroyed if they injure someone, even if the humans don’t heed warnings to stay a safe distance away, according to the wildlife agency.
Information about living with moose can be found at http://www.cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/LivingwithWildlife Moose.aspx.
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