Wildlife agency seeks public help in third moose incident; 2 Summit County cases solved | CraigDailyPress.com

Wildlife agency seeks public help in third moose incident; 2 Summit County cases solved

Craig Press staff report
This photo posted on Facebook shows a man standing a few feet from a visibly angry moose in Frisco. The moose's ears are pinned back and its hackles are raised — an indication of imminent attack. This man was later identified thanks to help from the public.
Colorado Parks & Wildlife/courtesy

SUMMIT COUNTY — During the weekend, the public helped Colorado Parks and Wildlife identify individuals suspected of harassing and illegally feeding moose in Summit County.

CPW is now asking for the public’s help in another case of wildlife harassment.

During the weekend, CPW learned of a video showing two young men approaching and trying to touch a moose in Frisco’s Drake Landing neighborhood approximately three weeks ago. The moose kicked at one of the men with its front leg, appearing to make contact.  It is unknown if any injuries resulted from the conflict.

“That video is disturbing, because the moose appears to actually strike the individual,” said District Wildlife Manager Elissa Slezak. “That could have easily led to a severely injured young man, and we would have had to put that moose down.”

Two recent, high-profile wildlife incidents in Summit County — including videos and a photo showing individuals approaching or feeding moose — have been addressed by CPW, thanks to tips from the public.

CPW officials say it is often the public’s help that brings wildlife violators to justice. In these recent cases, social media not only played a role in finding those responsible, but also educated many in the public about the dangers of approaching and feeding moose.

“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,” Slezak said. “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 to educate people to prevent human injuries or death and the harassment of wildlife, however wildlife officers will issue citations in appropriate situations.

“It’s not only unethical and irresponsible to feed and harass wildlife, it’s also illegal,” she said. “We will enforce our wildlife laws.”

On Friday, May 4, a photo of a man standing next to an agitated moose in Frisco caught the attention of CPW authorities when the snapshot made the rounds on social media. After appealing to the public for help, wildlife officers received numerous tips enabling them to quickly identify the individual.

After following up on the tips, wildlife officers learned the individual had been detained by local police later the same evening. Frisco police contacted him after receiving reports of his erratic behavior, 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 that same Friday, a woman from Summit County posted a video on social media of herself feeding a moose through the window of her vehicle. Due to the immediate, harsh backlash from the public, the woman quickly took the post down. After learning her identity, CPW officers contacted the woman Monday and issued her a citation for illegal feeding of wildlife and a warning for harassment of wildlife.

“She expressed remorse for what she did,” said Slezak. “She realizes now what a mistake it was, and we believe she has learned a valuable lesson.”

CPW is not identifying the woman out of concern for her safety.

“When you consider how severe the response from the public was, I can say she’s paid for her mistake,” said Slezak. “In fact, I would say the public’s response is probably more of a deterrent than the citation she received.”

Slezak hopes the public’s help can provide information to help identify the individual, or individuals involved in the third incident, captured on video.

Anyone can anonymously report information by calling Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available, if the information leads to an arrest or citation.

For more information about living responsibly with wildlife, visit the CPW website.