Bull moose found shot near Vail | AspenTimes.com

Bull moose found shot near Vail

Scott N. Miller
The Vail Daily
Aspen, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colo. – A hunter who shot a trophy-sized bull moose near Vail could face felony charges if caught.

There are fewer than 2,000 moose throughout Colorado and only a couple of places where it’s legal to hunt them. Eagle County isn’t one of them. Since the animal was left in the forest near Red Sandstone Road north of Vail, it’s probably a good guess that it was mistaken for an elk, although the two ungulate species are very different-looking animals.

This moose is one of 11 either illegally or mistakenly shot in the state this year. Last year, 14 moose were killed outside the legal hunting areas. No matter how a moose is shot, it’s a serious matter.

Mike Porras, of the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, said even someone who admits to mistakenly shooting a moose is subject to fines and, possibly, the loss of his or her hunting privileges, at least for some time.

But self-reporting is still a better way to go than just leaving the animal in the forest. Anyone caught doing that is subject to criminal prosecution, with possible jail time, a fine of as much as $20,000 and the likelihood of a lifetime ban from ever getting a state hunting license.

And while the forest’s a big place, Porras said some people who illegally shoot wildlife are caught.

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“Our officers are ‘Level 1’ law enforcement officers,” Porras said. “We use modern investigative techniques to try to determine who did it.”

The bottom line, though, is that anyone who mistakenly shoots a moose during elk season has violated one of the cardinal laws of hunting – knowing exactly what you’re shooting.

“If you’re not 100 percent sure, don’t pull the trigger,” Porras said, adding that elk and moose look very different, enough that the differences can be easily spotted by someone with binoculars. Also, elk are easily spooked. Moose don’t much care if there are humans nearby and will charge people, sometimes without obvious provocation.

In the end, Porras said, “There’s no real excuse for this mistake.”

smiller@vaildaily.com