New Castle has a moose on the loose | AspenTimes.com

New Castle has a moose on the loose

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Dan ThimsenDan Thimsen was surprised to find this bull moose just feet from his Canyon Creek home Friday morning. The moose has been spotted by several residents in the New Castle area over the past two weeks.

NEW CASTLE, Colo. – New Castle resident Janet Rickert was surprised when a bull moose visited her home just before dusk Thursday evening.

“It was in our backyard, and we live in downtown New Castle,” Rickert said. “So, you can imagine our surprise.”

Rickert said that it was her husband and son who first saw the animal.

“They were out playing catch in the backyard about seven o’clock,” she said. “My son came screaming in the house, ‘There is a great big moose in the yard’.”

But Rickert wasn’t completely surprised to see the moose. Rickert said that she had heard about the moose being around town about a week earlier when her boss, Judy Myers, spotted the animal walking along a path behind her Castle Valley home.

“He was just wandering around like he owned the place,” Myers said.

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According to Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton, the DOW has received reports of the animal being in the area over the past two weeks, and DOW officers responded Thursday night to ensure the safety of the animal.

“We responded, not because the moose was a problem, but people were approaching the moose and were trying to get a picture,” Hampton said. “We just wanted to make sure that he moved along.”

Hampton said that the moose did move along Thursday night. However, Canyon Creek resident Dan Thimsen was surprised to find the moose just feet away from his front porch Friday morning. Canyon Creek Estates is just east of New Castle and west of Glenwood Springs.

“I walked out and there he was, standing right in front of me,” Thimsen said. “At first I thought it was an elk, because I have seen elk in the area before, but then I noticed his rack.”

Thimsen went back into his house to grab a camera and was able to snap a few shots of the large animal from a safe distance.

The DOW reminds people that while it’s neat to see wild animals, males, especially this time of year – during the breeding season – can get aggressive towards humans. Moose and elk have been known to attack humans when confronted.

According to Hampton, it’s best to look from a safe distance and not try to approach the animal.

While moose have been a rare sight in the upper Colorado River Basin and the Roaring Fork Valley, Hampton said that the DOW is trying to re-establish the moose population on the Flat Tops area. In January, the DOW transplanted 20 moose from Utah to an area just east of Meeker on the Flat Tops, Hampton said.

Hampton said with that new population, moose will likely be a more common sight in the upper Colorado River basin and Roaring Fork Valley.

“They were a rarity,” he said, “Now, they will likely be more common.”

However, Hampton said that wildlife officers believe that this particular moose came from the Grand Mesa, located to the southwest of New Castle. The Grand Mesa herd consists of about 150 moose, Hampton said.

Hampton said that they believe this particular moose was transplanted to the Grand Mesa from Utah in September 2005, but had been spotted in the Flat Tops area last year.

jgardner@postindependent.com