Moose, the largest member of the deer family, can weigh as much as 1800 pounds and reach a height of seven feet at the shoulders, making them the tallest wild mammal currently roaming through North America and now frequenting Colorado ranches across the state. Due to their massive size, they enjoy very few predators save man, wolves, bears and cougars. When they live to adulthood, their survival rate is 95 percent, and their average lifespan is 10 to 15 years.
Colorado Ranch Wildlife - Living with Moose
Bighorn Sheep Behaviors
Today, the moose population in Colorado exceeds 1,000, up tremendously since their reintroduction in 1978 when only a few stray animals remained. Colorado moose are slightly smaller than their cousins that dwell in Alaska, the Shiras moose tops out at about 1,200 pounds and reaches six feet tall. There are an estimated 1.5 million moose living in North America.
Because moose are vegetarians, they are most frequently spotted where there is brush for them to graze on. They favor riparian habitats—land by a river or stream—and you can often see them near willows, their favorite food, as well as in aspen and pine forests. One of the best places to see these magnificent animals is State Forest State Park near Walden. Due to the park’s population of 600 moose that live there year-round, it has been named the official moose capital of Colorado.
Moose are extremely curious animals and are generally unafraid of humans. While normally docile, a female moose can be protective of her calf, and a male can be territorial, particularly during mating season in September and October. Only during this time do they use their six foot antlers, which are shed after mating season. Be sure to keep dogs away from them as this can initiate aggressive behavior since moose can mistake dogs for wolves.
In general, it is best to give moose their space, and stay at a distance. If you see a moose with its ears laid back, head cocked, licking its snout, or hair raised up on its neck, back away slowly. If the moose does decide to charge you, get something large between you and the moose such as a tree or large boulder. If nothing is available, run as fast as possible and don’t let them knock you to the ground – where they will typically stomp on you. Keep in mind that, though they look cumbersome, a moose can run up to 35 miles per hour.
Watch Out For Moose When Driving
The biggest physical threat to moose are vehicle-moose collisions. Because of their stature, a run-in between a moose and a car usually causes serious injury to both the animal and the people in the car, not to mention the car. Pay close attention when driving along Colorado’s mountain roadways, particularly when signs are posted warning of wildlife crossings, and during sunrise and sunset when moose are most active.
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