Moose seen wandering Douglas County

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A larger bull moose being trailed by a smaller bull moose in the Castle Rock area may have been hit and killed in the last two weeks by a vehicle, but that hasn't been confirmed yet, said Dave Hause, ranger/land manager for Douglas County Open Space.

The smaller bull now has been spotted alone, he said Oct. 28.

Hause said those two bulls are thought to be different animals than the single moose spotted first in Elizabeth recently and then near Parker on Oct. 28.

The pair of bulls was first seen about three weeks ago near the Plum Creek Parkway exit from Interstate 25, near the east frontage road — and later were seen near Larkspur and the Greenland areas, Hause said.

Hause saw the on-the-move pair a few days after that, near State Highway 83 and Hodgens Road, in extreme southern Douglas County. Then a few days after that, the smaller bull moose was spotted alone south of Castle Rock eating willows in the creek at the Columbine Open Space, near the east I-25 frontage road.

Jennifer Churchill, public relations officer for the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northeast Region, said that since moose were reintroduced to Colorado in the late 1970s near Walden, the population has expanded “all along the Continental Divide.” At the end of 2012 the estimated number was 2,100 moose.

“Our herd is doing really well in Colorado,” Hause said.

He said the moose found in this area are searching for new territory.

Also, this time of year, the bulls are in rut and competing for females and are even more feisty.

“They don't want anything in their way,” said Hause, who added that a fence doesn't stop them. He has seen them jump wire fences and three-rail wooden fences.

He said moose are extremely unpredictable, regardless of the season, and if someone spots one, a safe viewing distance is no closer than 150 yards. He said even if far away, don't approach.

If a moose lifts his or her head from eating and sees something approaching, it can “set off their instinct,” he said.

Hause said when a deer attacks, their hooves are like meat cleavers and do a lot of damage.

When moose attack, “moose are just like locomotives — even the smaller ones are extremely powerful. They have very long legs, extremely powerful legs, and big heads with that huge rack on top of it,” he said.

“They'll first run over you and then use those massive antlers to do a lot of damage,” he said.

Being seen near willows in a creek would be typical. Willow is what they eat, Hause said. And in that environment, under the cover of willows, they can be close by, invisible to people, and so can be on top of someone “before they know it.”

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