Moose on loose at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Moose on loose at Loudy-Simpson Park in Craig

CRAIG — The young bull moose that’s been hanging out around the Yampa River south of Craig was first noticed by balloonists flying over Loudy-Simpson Park during the Moffat County Hot Air Balloon Festival Aug. 4 and 5.

Though moose are typically elusive creatures, it is not unusual for the them to pass through the area, said Colorado Parks & Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Jeff Goncalves.

The bachelor bull — thought to be about 2 years old — seems content near the popular public park and has been spotted feeding from the ponds there. That has promoted CPW to post moose alert signs.

The moose’s presence offers both opportunity and risks to the public.

"People can live with moose. Granby and Steamboat have moose that run around in the town. This is an opportunity for people to see an animal they normally wouldn't," Goncalves said, but added, "I worry about people who take their dogs off-leash at the park."

It is unlawful to let dogs off-leash in the park, and as long as the moose is in the area, allowing dogs to run free in the area becomes especially dangerous.

Recommended Stories For You

"Historically, wolves were moose predators. Moose have that instinct that if they see a dog that is too close, they will aggressively defend themselves," Goncalves said.

Goncalves isn't certain where the moose came from. It might have wandered down from the Black Mountain area, where there is a small population, or perhaps it made its way down from the Steamboat area, where there are plenty of moose. Another possibility is that it came from the White River area, also home to a large moose population.

Young bull moose are known to wander long distances to get away from older bulls and establish their own territories. Once a territory has been established, moose don't typically migrate.

"They stay in their territories over winter. They are adapted to deep snow and cold climates," Goncalves said.

It's difficult to say how long the moose might call the area home.

"If he feels comfortable there, he'll stick around," Goncalves said. "Once they establish a territory, they stick around, but it's too early to tell if he's establishing his territory here."

What to do during a moose encounter

At this point, Colorado Parks & Wildlife officers plan to leave the moose alone, while monitoring both the animal and the public. They ask the public to give the animal its space and abide by the following tips.

• Always keep dogs on a leash, or consider leaving dogs home when visiting Loudy-Simpson while there is a moose in the park.

• Never approach a moose. If a moose reacts to your presence you’re too close.

• Watch for aggressive behavior, and move away rapidly if you see signs of an impending aggression. Raised hackles, ears pinned back, lowered head, swaying back and forth, snorting, or licking its snout may indicate a moose preparing to charge.

• Moose may charge without warning, so keep your distance.

• If you stumble upon a moose and surprise it, do not make sudden movements; back away, keep your eyes on the animal as you try to put something — a tree, rock, fence, car, etc. — between it and you.

• If a moose charges, run away as quickly as possible and get behind something. If you are knocked down, get up and run. If injured, seek medical attention, and report the incident to CPW as soon as possible.

“It's OK to try and see him and try to get pictures, but please, keep your distance,” Goncalves cautioned. “Don't go into heavy brush in an attempt to locate him, or you may inadvertently get too close and surprise him."

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.