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Moose that injured 2 people, dog had a newborn calf

Wildlife officers found the newborn calf after a deputy shot and killed the cow moose near the West Magnolia Trailhead.

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — A cow moose that was shot and killed on Wednesday for repeatedly charging at people – and injuring two people and their dog – was defending its newborn calf.

This was the third known moose attack on a person in the state this year, the Boulder County Sheriff's Office (BCSO) said in a news release. All three incidents involved a cow showing defensive behavior because of their nearby calves.

A 31-year-old man was seriously injured in the attack shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday near the West Magnolia Trailhead, which is on U.S. Forest Service property. A female sustained minor injuries, and their dog was also injured.

A Boulder County deputy encountered the cow moose as he was looking for the injured people who were yelling for help, the sheriff's office said.

The deputy fired bean bag rounds. The moose ran off, only to return while the deputy was assisting the injured people. He fired a warning shot, and the moose left again.

As the deputy and medics were evacuating the injured man to the trailhead, the moose returned for a third time and continued to charge at people. The deputy shot and killed the moose, the sheriff's office said.

Hours after the attack, wildlife officers were able to capture the orphaned female calf near the trailhead, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said on Thursday.

CPW's veterinary staff will care for the calf, but its chances for survival weren't known.

"We do not know how much early colostrum she would have received from her mother, which provides the much-needed nutrients and antibodies vital to its survival," CPW said in a news release Thursday. 

"While our wildlife health staff cannot take every orphaned animal, it was determined when evaluating the circumstances of this situation that our wildlife health staff would take in this animal to use her growth and development for CPW's educational purposes," CPW said.

The two previous moose attacks on people this year were in Breckenridge on May 26 and Grand Lake on May 31, according to the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.

Agencies that responded to the incident were the BCSO, Nederland Fire Protection District, Nederland Police Department, CPW and American Medical Response.

Moose encounters with people are common, but moose can injure people and pets that get too close. CPW offers the following suggestions on how to be safe around moose:

  • Never approach a moose too closely. Watch and photograph from a safe distance.
  • Move slowly and not directly at them.
  • Back off if they show signs of aggression, such as the hair on their neck standing up, licking their snout, cocking their head and rolling their eyes and ears back.

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