COLORADO SPRINGS, CO — A recent incident involving two hikers, their dogs, and a defensive cow moose with a calf has led Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to reiterate the importance of maintaining a safe distance from wildlife in the state’s backcountry areas.
According to a report from CPW, the event occurred near the popular Crags Trail off Colorado Highway 67, about 3 miles south of Divide. The hikers, who had their three dogs on leashes, were confronted by a cow moose and its calf. Despite their attempts to keep a safe distance, the moose closed in, leading to one of the hikers getting trampled.
The confrontation unfolded about a mile into the Crags Trail where the hikers first noticed the moose and its calf. They tried to circumvent the animals while maintaining a safe distance, but the moose continued to approach. Once one of the dogs started barking, the moose charged and trampled one of the hikers. Although the hikers managed to escape and reach their vehicle, the moose chased them down the trail before eventually stopping.
The injured hiker and their companion and dogs were able to walk out of the wilderness unassisted and later sought medical evaluation at the hospital. Thankfully they sustained only minor injuries, though it could have been much worse.
Tim Kroening, CPW’s Area Wildlife Manager for the Pikes Peak region, said the incident serves as a stark reminder. “This incident is a reminder of why we warn everyone to respect wildlife and give them their space,” he stated.
CPW noted that the moose population in Colorado has been growing, particularly in Teller County. The state currently has an estimated 3,500 moose, up from 2,250 in 2013. With more people moving into Colorado and frequenting its outdoor spaces, incidents involving humans and wildlife are likely to increase, making precautionary measures crucial.
LESSONS LEARNED & SAFETY TIPS
Here are tips from CPW on staying safe around wildlife such as moose, deer, elk, bears, and other Colorado wildlife in the mountains.
- Keep a Safe Distance: When encountering wildlife, particularly mothers with young, always keep a safe distance to avoid provoking defensive behaviors.
- Leash Your Dogs: Moose perceive dogs as predators and are more likely to become aggressive if dogs are present and off-leash.
- Be Aware of Habitats: Avoid thick willow habitats near water sources, as these are likely resting and feeding spots for moose.
- Know the Seasonal Risks: During the annual breeding period, known as the ‘rut,’ male wildlife like deer, elk, and moose can become particularly aggressive.
- Enjoy Wildlife Responsibly: Never attempt to approach, touch, or feed wild animals. Always admire them from a safe distance and use binoculars for a closer look.
For more safety tips, you can watch CPW’s video on how to be safe and responsible around moose.
By adhering to these guidelines, both residents and visitors can enjoy Colorado’s natural beauty while minimizing the risks to themselves and the wildlife that call this state home.