The recent decision by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to relocate two moose that have been frequenting Steamboat Ski Area has been a long time coming and is the result of more and more close encounters between the large animals and humans, which is a dangerous mix. And while there’s always risks associated with moving wildlife to a new habitat, we think CPW made the right call in this situation.
A pair of moose will be relocated from Steamboat Ski Area to a new home 80 to 100 miles from here.
This move is the right one to protect the lives of humans and the moose.
With the diversity and proliferation of wildlife in Northwest Colorado, it’s imperative that we learn to live compatibly with animals and nature, but sometimes action has to be taken to protect people, especially when you’re dealing with those who have not been educated on how to react appropriately when they come into contact with a wild animal. We can presume that when moose were first reintroduced into North Park more than 30 years ago, no one imagined a female moose and her calf would one day be hanging around the Steamboat base area.
Because moose, similar to humans, look for the path of least resistance when traveling from one area to another, they often choose to walk on groomed ski runs, such as BC Ski Way, rather than tromping through deep snow. As a result, skiers are encountering one particular pair of moose, which are becoming more and more agitated when people ski by or stop to take selfies with the moose.
CPW spokesman Mike Porras said these encounters put the moose in danger, because if they were to hurt a human, wildlife officers would be forced to euthanize the animals. To protect the moose, CPW officials are doing moose reconnaissance and looking for an opportunity to move them to a new home, which would ideally be at least 80 or 100 miles away from the ski mountain.
Relocation efforts, according to area wildlife manager Kris Middledorf, would involve tranquilizing the moose, putting them on large tarps or a sled and transporting them to the base area where they’d be loaded into a trailer and driven to their new home.
In addition to the cow and calf that have been seen at the ski mountain, wildlife officials are aware of at least five other moose in the area, but so far, these animals have not shown any agitation or aggression when crossing paths with humans.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the moose relocation had not happened, but when it does, we hope the operation goes as planned, and the animals arrive unscathed at their new home.
In the meantime, people should be aware of what to do if they encounter one of these large, 800-pound animals on the mountain or across town.
Skiers are advised to stop and wait for a moose to cross a trail rather than trying to ski by the animal. Skiers should also fight the urge to take a selfie with the moose. These animals are wild and their behavior is unpredictable, and humans usually do not fare well when a moose decides to charge.
Wildlife officials say the best course of action to take when encountering a moose in town or on a trail is to back away and keep your distance, and if at all possible, put a large object, such as a car or tree, between yourself and the animal.