Aspen Untucked: Watch out for moose
May 10, 2018
I'm a Colorado girl at heart, having lived on and off in the state since the age of 6. I've spent many days on the slopes and many nights in the wilderness. Still, my experiences with wildlife are pretty minimal. Sure, I see some deer, foxes and various rodents. I've had run-ins with far too many spiders and I've met a few birds and snakes. Having lived in Aspen for several years, I've also been lucky enough to see a few bears downtown but, for the most part, my encounters with animals of the wild kind have been scarce. Though, even with little to no experience interacting with wildlife, I know one truth that should never be ignored: Don't mess with moose.
For those who don't live in the mountains, this may seem like an insignificant, even false, rule — especially if you're someone who generally thinks of the friendly Bullwinkle J. Moose from "Rocky and Bullwinkle" when it comes to this large forest creature. However surprising or wrong it may seem, these mammals are not nice. In fact, Forest Service officials consider them to be the most dangerous animal in the Colorado wilderness.
At this point in my column, you may be wondering why I'm ranting and raving about moose (and no, the plural is not meese, unfortunately). Well, it all started when I read an article in The Denver Post a few days ago. It was about a man who chased a moose onto a median on a busy street in Frisco. In the photo that accompanied the article, which was taken by a passing driver, a man looks slightly alarmed as the large mammal towers over him on the medium, next to a sign that reads "Frisco." The moose looks furious in this photo, with its ears pinned back and its hackles raised. Colorado Parks and Wildlife was looking for the man in the picture in hopes of explaining to him that he should not chase these creatures because it's incredibly dangerous. This story led me down a viral internet hole on moose attacks. And, let me tell you, there are some good and downright scary ones out there. The collection of moose attack videos isn't as vast as cute cat videos, but it's still pretty impressive if you have a couple hours to spare.
So, why are moose so dangerous? To put it simply, they are large and in charge. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, moose do not have many natural enemies in the wild so they aren't particularly afraid of humans. They can also get extremely aggressive and territorial when it comes to food and their young, as well as during mating season in the fall. Their size and weight make them a force to be reckoned with if they feel threatened. Dogs are particularly threatening to moose because they resemble wolves, a main predator of the animal. If they encounter either type of canine, they try to crush it with their hooves. When they attack humans, they may also try to crush said attacker and/or charge them. Although encountering an angry moose sounds like just about the most horrific thing possible, attacks are rare. Colorado Parks and Wildlife states on its website that if you encounter a moose, you should not run away. Stay calm, talk, make your presence known and slowly head back the direction you came. If they try to charge, run like hell, and attempt to put a large object between you and the animal before it's too late.
Now that spring is in full swing, cows (the name for female moose) are raising their calves throughout the Colorado wilderness. The chances of seeing this animal are much more likely right now; if you remember, last year one just strolled down Hopkins Avenue.
So, if you ever see a moose, for your safety and theirs, stay away. You can get your fill of moose in other ways. Just spend a few hours on Youtube or Instagram.
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Barbara Platts hopes see one of these beautiful creatures in the wild some day, but from very, very far away. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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