Colorado Parks and Wildlife on Wednesday relocated a young bull moose to the San Juan National Forest after it had spent a few days in Durango and eventually wandered into a downtown neighborhood.
Reports came in Monday regarding a moose near the Colorado Trail along Junction Creek west of Durango. Tuesday, it was spotted by residents in the Crestview neighborhood.
Wednesday morning, a resident near East 7th Avenue in the downtown residential area known as “The Grid” called CPW to report the moose was in her backyard.
“Young bulls are known to wander off from their more normal habitats this time of year in search of mates and their own territory,” said CPW assistant area wildlife manager Steve McClung. “They can cover a lot of ground pretty quickly. Usually if they come to town, they will move along and work their way safely out of town. This one being in the middle of town with no clear path to move out on its own, and the risk of aggressive behavior toward pedestrians, especially those with dogs, it needed to be safely relocated.”
CPW biologists and wildlife managers monitored the movements of the moose throughout the day, keeping the neighborhood safe and clear from any gathering crowds. McClung thanked residents for maintaining their distance and allowing CPW to take its time to address the situation with care for both the animal and the community.
The moose spent the afternoon resting on a hillside just below the Fort Lewis College campus and above the residential area, encountering only the curious eyes of a mule deer doe and fawn.
At approximately 6 p.m. Wednesday, CPW was able to tranquilize the moose and safely move it down the hill where it was loaded into a horse trailer.
CPW biologists made observations regarding the health of the moose and also tagged each ear. Once in the trailer, another drug was administered to reverse the effects of the tranquilizer. The moose was safely back on its feet soon after.
Later that evening, the moose was released in good habitat in the San Juan National Forest, where there is a thriving moose population.
“Through lots of patience and the support and cooperation of neighbors, we were able to safely get the moose down the hill and loaded up to be released back into appropriate moose habitat,” McClung said.
It is common in the late summer and early fall for young bull moose to travel south out of San Juan County and into La Plata County as they seek out new territory. Several moose have wandered into Durango and the surrounding area in recent years, but they all moved on fairly quickly on their own.
“It is always best to be aware when around moose or in their habitat,” McClung said. “Keep dogs on leashes and keep your distance. If you want to get a picture, use a long lens and your zoom.”
For more information and tips on living in moose country, go to: cpw.state.co.us/moose-country