North Star floats not recommended due to frequent moose sightings east of Aspen |

North Star floats not recommended due to frequent moose sightings east of Aspen

Officials warn of increased in moose activity on popular preserve

A moose takes a long drink of water next to the East of Aspen Trail near Independence Pass in Aspen on Thursday, June 3, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

Officials with Pitkin County’s Open Space and Trails program are warning boaters at the North Star Nature Preserve that floating currently is not recommended because of frequent moose sightings.

Floats through the picturesque preserve east of Aspen, however, are not forbidden, said Ryan Quinn, senior open space ranger.

“People are seeing moose more frequently,” Quinn said Thursday. “We’re making sure people are taking into consideration the risk of floating.”

North Star’s relatively undisturbed riparian acreage — most of the preserve is closed to the public — is prime moose habitat, he said. Moose with calves have been sighted regularly lately, and while no one has been attacked this summer, rangers want to make sure that does not happen.

Moose are territorial animals and will not run off at the sight of humans like bears or other animals, Quinn said. In addition, they are very quick, agile and large animals that can be unpredictable. Boaters can easily come upon the moose as they come around blind river bends and should be on their toes, especially when approaching areas of willows, he said.

If boaters or stand-up paddleboarders come upon a moose, rangers ask that they pull off to the opposite side of the river and wait for the moose to move on. Try to remain at least 100 yards away from moose.

“Keep your distance,” according to a OST warning issued Wednesday afternoon. “Anyone at North Star should keep a close watch on what’s in front of them. On land, back away and leave the area; hide behind a large tree or other object if necessary. A moose with raised hackles, lowered head or ears pinned back may be preparing to charge.”

Boaters at North Star are not allowed to leave the river, except at the North Star Beach, located not far upriver from the Stillwater takeout. And for the first time, dogs are not allowed to be on watercraft this year and must be kept out of the preserve.

So far, most people are abiding by the no-dogs rule, with only one dog being caught on camera so far this year, Quinn said.

It’s not clear how long the no-float recommendation will remain in effect, he said. Rangers have been hearing numerous reports of people seeing moose at North Star and until that decreases, the warning will likely remain in effect.

Moose encounters may be more likely during early morning and evening hours, though sightings have occurred during all hours of the day, Quinn said.