Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are issuing its annual warning to avoid elk, moose and deer that have newborn calves and fawns this time of year.
The alert was prompted by a pair of recent conflicts resulting in injuries to a pair of elderly men – one in Steamboat Springs on May 29 and the other in Evergreen on June 3.
Although both incidents were not believed to be sparked by irresponsible behavior, they do serve as examples that wildlife are just that, wild, and they can act in unpredictable ways. CPW reminds the public to respect wildlife and their space, especially at this time of the year.
“Cows will be exhibiting normal protective behavior of their young,” said Wildlife Officer Tim Woodward. “Give wildlife extra space this time of year. Be sure to keep dogs on leashes. Dogs can trigger aggressive behavior and both moose and elk will chase a dog right back to their owner, presenting a dangerous situation.”
On May 29 near Snowflake Circle and Meadow Lane in Steamboat Springs, a gentleman was knocked over on his back and stomped by a cow moose with two calves. The victim stated that his small dog was outside unleashed when he heard it start barking and realized there was a moose in the area. He stepped forward to grab the dog and that is when the moose charged at him.
The victim in the moose attack was examined for minor injuries on site.
On Thursday, June 6 in the Hiwan Hills area of Evergreen, reports came in of a cow elk charging people. A 90-year-old man injured his hip in the incident, although no contact between the man and the elk is believed to have been made. The man was sent to the hospital to evaluate his injury.
Other aggressive behavior of moose in Steamboat Springs and elk in Evergreen and Estes Park has been reported within the last week. Similar scenarios with moose, elk and deer may take place across Colorado.
Many birds and mammals give birth this time of the year. Now through the end of the month, newborn wildlife will be found across the landscape and it is important that when they are observed, that people do so from a distance and never try to interact with them.
Having dogs off leash often escalates run-ins with wildlife from just a sighting into what could be a dangerous situation.
“As people are recreating for the next three or four weeks, they should be keeping their dogs on a leash or leaving them at home,” said Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for CPW’s Northeast region. “They should be aware of their surroundings and should give all wildlife plenty of space.”
One way to avoid an unnecessary run-in with a moose is to steer clear of thick willow habitat in riparian areas where they are likely to be found eating or resting. Their calves, born at the end of May or in early June, are often lying in the willows while their mother is off grazing. Calves, which weigh 26-28 pounds at birth, typically gain about two pounds of weight per day, reaching weights of 385-400 pounds by October.
Elk calves are typically born in locations where cover, forage and water are in juxtaposition in late May or early June. A single calf is typical, twins are rare. Calves weigh between 28-35 pounds at birth and are covered with small white spots for their first few months of their lives.
(Photo source: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)