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Recent moose, elk encounters prompts warning from CPW

CPW issued the warning after four recent incidents involving wildlife, people and their pets.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

DENVER — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is warning residents to be extra vigilant this time of year after several recent incidents between people and wildlife. 

That includes three elk encounters this month out of Jefferson County and one moose attack in Larimer County that occurred in May. CPW said elk, deer and moose are currently rearing their newborn offspring, increasing the possibility of a serious wildlife encounter.

“People need to keep their distance and be aware of their surroundings when they are in the vicinity of wildlife and their habitats,” said Scott Murdoch, Wildlife Officer in the Conifer district of Jefferson County. “If you are watching an elk just standing there, but notice a change in its behavior in any way, you are too close and need to back away. Their first signs of being alerted to your presence are often them raising their ears or head and stopping what they were doing.”

In the most recent incident, a woman was walking her dog on a leash  in Conifer when she unknowingly got too close to a cow elk she didn’t see. The elk charged the woman, and as she was getting out of its way, CPW said the woman fell off a retaining wall and broke her knee. 

On June 7, CPW said a cow elk charged at another woman walking her dog in Evergreen. The woman took refuge on a nearby balcony and her dog came away with a bloody nose, according to CPW. 

Responding wildlife officers surveyed the location and found an elk in the area that showed signs it was nursing and that the calf was likely hidden nearby. CPW said a similar incident was also reported on June 6 in Evergreen.  

A man in Larimer County was attacked on May 23 by a cow moose when it came out of the trees, knocked the victim down and stomped on his body before running away, according to CPW. 

Wildlife officers who investigated the attack noticed part of a placenta nearby, leading them to believe the cow had recently given birth. CPW said the mother moose was likely acting in defense of her newborn. 

CPW said one of the most significant concerns for human safety is the aggressive response by a powerful mother moose or elk in defense of their calves.  

“It is so important that people keep their distance from wildlife, especially this time of the year,” Murdoch said. “Being close to wildlife increases stress levels for those animals, even if they don't flee from your presence. Additionally, you put yourself into danger when you are close to wildlife."

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