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CPW: Expect aggressive wildlife as mothers defend their young

A hiker and off-leash dog were charged by a cow moose Thursday near Divide, according to wildlife officials.

DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) renewed its call for caution in the backcountry after an incident between a hiker with an off-leash dog and a defensive cow moose with a calf.

On Thursday, a woman with her dog reported a confrontation with a cow moose and its calf about 45 minutes up the popular Crags Trail near Divide.

The hiker told CPW that her dog was running off-leash when a cow moose charged her dog and then her, before eventually retreating into the woods with a calf.

“This incident is a reminder of why we warn everyone to respect wildlife and give them their space,” said CPW wildlife manager Tim Kroening. “We know Colorado residents love their dogs. But to keep them safe, we urge people not to take their dogs into wildlife habitat during fawning and calving season and never let them off-leash.

“These confrontations can happen with bears, moose, elk, deer and other wildlife and especially when dogs are involved. They view the dogs as a predator and react in defense of their young,” Kroening said.

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“If you are in the backcountry, give wildlife extra space,” Kroening said. “Especially this time of year, when wildlife are raising their young.”

“Also be sure to keep dogs on leashes. Better yet, keep them at home.”

As a precaution against run-ins with moose, CPW urges hikers to avoid thick willow habitat in riparian areas where they are likely to be found eating or resting.

CPW said Coloradans should also leave wildlife alone, untouched in their natural habitat, so they can grow and thrive in the wild.

“Do not approach, touch or feed wild animals,” Kroening said. “Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance. Keep your dog on a leash and on trails.”

“Perhaps most important, if you find a wild animal that appears sick or injured, leave it alone. Call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and talk to a trained wildlife official for guidance.”

Credit: Charlie Baden

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