Moose makes tracks to Glenwood
December 18, 2006
Aspen, CO ColoradoGARFIELD COUNTY About the only moose that employees of the Farmhouse on Highway 82 usually see are the inanimate ones for sale inside their home furnishings store.On Monday, a real one showed up just outside the place, where he could easily find his likeness on pillows and in sculptures.The appearance of a moose behind the building excited Sam Mosher and other store employees, who scrambled for a look.”We darted out of the store like it’s a fire drill,” she said.Employees from several nearby businesses checked out the unusual sight. But the moose, a bull who had lost his year’s growth of antlers, seemed oblivious to the commotion he was causing as he reclined in the grass near a parking lot.Nevertheless, his proximity to a heavily traveled highway and a commercial area near the Colorado Mountain College turnoff south of Glenwood Springs was too close for comfort for Colorado Division of Wildlife officers. They shot him with tranquilizers and planned to move him back west to the Grand Mesa, where the DOW has been reintroducing moose; a yellow identification tag on the moose’s ear indicated he had strayed from there.
Area moose sightings have been more common in recent years, with the animals showing up in the Canyon Creek area, No Name and Rifle. However, the DOW has tried to leave them alone unless safety concerns arose.That was the case Monday, with the animal so close to a stretch of highway already infamous for collisions between cars and big game. John Groves, district wildlife manager in Carbondale for the DOW, worried about what could have happened if the moose decided to try to cross the highway after dark.
“It would be pretty serious if somebody hit him,” Groves said. “They’re big enough that they’d do a lot of damage.”Groves said there have been other reports this year of moose near the area where Monday’s was spotted, including one at the Westbank subdivision.”I don’t know that it’s the same one, but there’s a good likelihood that he is,” Groves said. “Why he’s hanging out here I don’t know.”Moving a moose isn’t without some risk to the animal itself – not to mention to bystanders. DOW officers first fired two tranquilizer darts at the moose late Monday morning, but missed with one and had to prepare another dart to use on him. Meanwhile, other officers manned the perimeters, to contain the moose and keep any onlookers or passers-by at a safe distance.Even after a second dart found its mark, the moose was slow to lie down. Groves said the animal’s adrenaline following the first shot probably interfered with the tranquilizers’ effect. Officers had to inject the animal with a third tranquilizer dose even after he went down.
Once the moose was loaded in a truck, officers administered others drugs to revive him.He was expected to be released on the Grand Mesa later Monday.Elaine Spike, who works at a business behind the Farmhouse, said she had never seen a moose before pulling into the parking lot Monday and coming across the one standing in the lot.”It looked like a horse,” she said. “It’s awesome.”
For Mosher, Monday was a banner wildlife day. She also saw a golden eagle on the way to work.”What better can you ask for, an eagle and a moose?” she said.But she also lamented the loss of habitat for wildlife over the years.”So many people have built everywhere that these critters don’t have anywhere to go,” she said.