Editorial: Moose close-ups aren’t worth the risk | AspenTimes.com

Editorial: Moose close-ups aren’t worth the risk

Like black bears, moose in the Aspen area provide humans with excellent opportunities to capture photographs of these magnificent creatures in the outdoors.

Over the years, guests and residents snapping photos of bears or cubs in a tree have startled the animals so much that they wouldn’t come down, often prompting authorities to shut down streets and clear out the crowds. Black bears, however, are rarely aggressive toward humans, so the safety concerns haven’t been a great issue with them.

Moose, however, pose a much greater threat toward humans. Mature cows and bulls weigh as much as 1,200 pounds, and they don’t like being disturbed by people, and they especially don’t like dogs, which they associate with wolves, one of their few natural predators, according to wildlife officials.

“The photo op isn’t worth getting stomped,” Perry Will, Area 8 wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, recently told The Aspen Times.

Part of Will’s region includes the Maroon Bells area, where there have been ample moose sightings this summer. Moose sightings are one thing, but moose encounters are quite another.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Forest Service, concerned about two bull moose in the area, closed the Crater Lake Trail and the scenic-loop trail at the end of the Maroon Bells scenic area.

“After consulting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service determined that the two bull moose posed a serious risk to the public, especially in light of the number of people that have come too close to the growing population of moose that now live in the area,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement issued Thursday. “The risky behavior continues despite numerous posted signs warning of the potential danger.”

The trails reopened Wednesday, but that doesn’t mean the problem with moose has gone away. That’s due in part to the fact, according to Parks and Wildlife, that visitors to the Maroon Bells are ignoring the agency’s signs that tell them to avoid the moose.

Since 2012, at least six people in Colorado have been injured by moose, according to Parks and Wildlife. And when animals injure a human, they are often destroyed.

The bottom line: We all need to respect wildlife, especially when it’s in its prime habitat — such as moose at the Maroon Bells area. It’s for our safety as well as the animals’.