By Matt Kroschel
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4)– A warning to those who like to take a relaxing walk in the woods with a dog: a protective moose with calves has already attacked three people this month. The attacks happened in Grand and Boulder Counties.
Since 2013, 15 incidents of moose and human conflicts with injuries have been recorded in Colorado, according to Parks and Wildlife officials. Expert believe most of those encounters could have been avoided.
According to wildlife officials, a major catalyst in serious moose conflicts is the presence of dogs, as was the case in both recent incidents. Moose see a dog as a wolf, regardless of the breed, and will react with aggression to protect their young. Often the dog will encounter a moose then run back to a human’s side, bringing the angry, charging animal to the pair.
“People need to know when any wild animal injures a person, regardless of whether it is the human’s fault or not, the animal will have to be put down if we can identify it,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde.
“It is by far the worst part of any officer’s job, but they must and will act to protect the public. It is why we strongly encourage everyone being responsible around wildlife and giving them plenty of space, especially when they have newborn offspring.”
According to CPW, on June 10, near Fraser, a woman allowed her dog to run loose near willows – typical moose habitat – when a moose suddenly charged her and her dog. The woman dropped to the ground, receiving a painful leg injury when the animal stepped on her before it quickly ran off.
Doctors treated the woman at a nearby emergency room and released her the same evening.
In Jamestown, a woman gardening in her backyard on June 2 reported that a moose with two calves unexpectedly appeared and began stomping on her. Her dog had been roaming freely in the yard at the time. Another resident of the home came to help and she was injured in the conflict as well. Both sought medical attention but neither woman suffered serious injuries.
“The woman and dog were in their own backyard, minding their own business and not doing anything wrong when this occurred,” said Boulder County Area Wildlife Manager Larry Rogstad. “But even if you are not in the wilderness, sometimes the wildlife comes to you. We recommend everyone in Colorado be aware of the potential of encountering wildlife anywhere and anytime. Get the facts like those on the CPW website and be prepared to respond appropriately.”