By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife department has issued its annual warning to residents and visitors to be wary of wildlife after two elderly men were injured in encounters with a moose and elk over the last week.
The warning is similar to one Yellowstone National Park officials released last month, reminding visitors that elk are more aggressive than normal this time of year.
The CPW’s warning comes in reaction to two incidents in the last week involving elderly men and wildlife, both of which resulted in injuries: one occurred in Steamboat Springs, while another took place in Evergreen.
Although neither incident was believed to be the result of irresponsible behavior, both serve as examples that wildlife are wild, and can act in unpredictable ways, according to the CPW.
“Cows will be exhibiting normal protective behavior of their young,” said Wildlife Officer Tim Woodward. “Give wildlife extra space this time of year. Be sure to keep dogs on leashes. Dogs can trigger aggressive behavior and both moose and elk will chase a dog right back to their owner, presenting a dangerous situation.”
On May 29 in Steamboat Springs, an 85-year-old man was knocked onto his back and stomped by a cow moose with two calves.
The victim stated that his small dog was outside unleashed when he heard it start barking and realized there was a moose in the area. He stepped forward to grab the dog, which is when the moose charged him.
The man was examined for minor injuries on site.
The second incident occurred Thursday in Evergreen, when witnesses reported a cow elk charging people. A 90-year-old man injured his hip in the incident, although there appeared to be no contact between the man and the elk.
The man was sent to the hospital to evaluate his injury.
Other aggressive behavior by moose in Steamboat Springs and elk in Evergreen and Estes Park has been reported within the last week.
Similar scenarios with moose, elk and deer may take place across Colorado and other western states, including Wyoming.
With the weather turning warm and more people heading outside for recreation, Colorado wildlife officials are urging everyone in wildlife areas to be careful.
“As people are recreating for the next three or four weeks, they should be keeping their dogs on a leash or leaving them at home,” said Kristin Cannon, Deputy Regional Manager for CPW’s Northeast region. “They should be aware of their surroundings and should give all wildlife plenty of space.”
One way to avoid an unnecessary run-in with a moose is to steer clear of thick willow habitat in riparian areas where they are likely to be found eating or resting.
Elk calves are typically born in locations where cover, forage and water are in juxtaposition in late May or early June.
As Cowboy State Daily has warned before, if a person sees an elk calf by itself, they should leave it alone. Really. Do not put the cuddly baby animal in your car because it looks cold or you want to befriend it.