Two Summit County moose incidents solved; third under investigation
Officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife have identified two people shown in a video and a photo either approaching or feeding moose in Frisco, thanks to tips from the public, according to the agency.
The two incidents happened over the weekend and quickly went viral on social media. However, according to the state wildlife agency, both incidents have both been addressed and one of the individuals was cited.
In these recent cases, social media not only played a role in helping find those responsible, but helped educate the general public about the dangers of approaching moose, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“If high-profile cases like this serve to spread the word, whether through social media or the grapevine, that alone has accomplished much of what we are trying to do to inform the public,” District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak said in a prepared statement. “It was encouraging to see how many local folks are already aware of the dangers relating to moose, so there is definitely some community self-policing going on.”
Slezak stressed the agency’s priority is education, preventing human injuries or death, and the harassment of wildlife, though wildlife officers do issue citations when they’re warranted.
“It’s not only unethical and irresponsible to feed and harass wildlife, it’s also illegal,” Slezak said. “We will enforce our wildlife laws.”
In one of the incidents, a man was photographed standing next to a moose on Summit Boulevard in Frisco that appeared agitated.
The photo caught the attention of authorities after making rounds on social media, and with the public’s help, officers quickly identified the individual.
After following up on the tips, wildlife officers learned he had been detained by Frisco police on Friday. Police reportedly contacted the man after receiving reports he had been behaving erratically, including the incident with the moose.
“We know who he is and have attempted to contact him about the moose incident,” said Slezak. “We’ll evaluate the situation and make a determination about how to proceed when we meet with him.”
In a separate incident, also on Friday, a woman from Summit County posted video on social media of herself feeding a moose through the window of her vehicle.
The public backlash was harsh and immediate, and the woman quickly took down her post.
After learning her identity, officers contacted the woman on Monday and wrote her a citation for illegally feeding wildlife while giving her a warning for the harassment of wildlife, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
“She expressed remorse for what she did,” Slezak said. “She realizes now what a mistake it was, and we believe she has learned a valuable lesson.”
The agency is not releasing the woman’s name out of concern for her personal safety.
“When you consider how severe the response from the public was, I can say she’s paid for her mistake,” Slezak said. “In fact, I would say the public’s response is probably more of a deterrent than the citation she received.”
In addition to these two incidents, state wildlife officials are once again asking for the public’s help with another case of wildlife harassment.
Over the weekend, officers became aware of another video showing two younger men approaching and trying to touch a moose in Frisco’s Drake Landing neighborhood. The incident happened approximately three weeks ago.
The moose kicked at one of the men with its front leg and appeared to hit him. It was unclear, however, if any injuries resulted from the strike.
“That video is disturbing because the moose appears to actually strike the individual,” said Slezak. “That could have easily led to a severely injured young man and we would have had to put that moose down.”
Anyone with information can remain anonymous by calling Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or citation.
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The act will devote nearly $3 billion annually to conservation projects, outdoor recreation and maintenance of national parks and other public lands. The measure was overwhelmingly approved by Congress.