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moose

Spring Is In The Air: Tourist Tries To Pet Moose, Gets Instantly Attacked

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

It’s like hearing “Gentlemen, start your engines” at the Indianapolis 500.

It’s been said that the “season opener” for spring is the first time of the new year a tourist at a natural destination — such as Yellowstone National Park — does something that prompts a wild animal attack.

Even if the attack didn’t happen in Yellowstone, which appears to be the case in this event, it still marks an important time of year, when the much-anticipated mauling season is right around the corner.

By all accounts, the first event of the year occurred a few weeks ago in Canada, according to the Canadian website “Noovelles.”

The title of the video posted on the site tells the story: Never pet a wild moose.

And, of course, the video goes on to show why that’s a wise bit of advice.

The video shows a snowmobiler climbing off of his snow machine and walking over to cheerfully greet a moose like he’s meeting Bullwinkle at a carnival.

However, Bullwinkle is not happy to see him.

Instead of shaking the tourist’s hand, the moose gets up on his hind legs and knocks him down and then repeatedly kicks him.

No mercy. When the guy attempts to roll to safety, the moose follows him and continues to pummel him. In fighting parlance, it’s an absolute ass-whooping.

Then, in English, a voice announces that the moose broke the tourist’s leg. Seconds later, the video shows the kick that may have just done that.

In the meantime, the tourist’s friends appear to show some concern. But not enough to risk the wrath of the miffed moose. Mostly, the injured tourist’s pals — including the guy who kept the camera rolling the entire time — just have front row seats to the epic battle between a snowmobiler and a force of nature weighing in at more than 1,000 pounds

The condition of the tourist is unknown.

Many of the French-speaking commenters, however, mention that his snowmobile escaped serious injury.

The clock is now ticking for the first event in Yellowstone.

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Wyoming Game And Fish, Landowners Save Moose Calf From Icy Pond

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department joined forces with a number of Jackson community members recently to save a moose calf from an icy pond and a tragic fate.

“This is not necessarily a unique situation, with moose calves falling through the ice, but it is also unique in the fact that we were able to get there in time to save the calf,” department spokesman Mark Gocke told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday. “We normally don’t get a call about this situation until after the calf has died and been found.”

The afternoon of Jan. 24, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department office in Jackson was contacted by a landowner in the South Park area, alerting them to a moose calf that had fallen through a hole in an icy pond and could not get out.

Three department staff arrived on the scene to find a large manmade pond with at least four aerators in it, with open water around each of them, surrounded by thicker shelf ice. The calf could not touch the bottom of the pond, but was also unable to climb out of the hole due to the thick ice surrounding it.

Gocke noted there were several hurdles to overcome to save the calf, the main one being a cow moose, which had previously been collared by the department, standing nearby.

“You have an adult cow that’s obviously stressed out about its calf and is likely going to be protective against people getting near it,” he said. “Then, you have the ice that could break while you’re trying to get an animal out of the water. Plus, this is happening during the winter and it’s cold, so you have to do this in a certain amount of time.”

He noted that the Game and Fish staff wore lifejackets while doing the rescue, in case anyone went into the water.

To solve at least one problem, the Game and Fish staff tranquilized the cow moose for her own safety and the safety of the humans in the area.

However, then another issue popped up: she laid down on the ice. While the ice might have been relatively thick, a 600- to 700-pound animal falling asleep on it was probably not going to end well for anyone. One of the biologists was with the cow when she heard the ice crack underneath them.

The decision was made to reverse the tranquilizer, which got the cow up and off the ice in about five to 10 minutes. Then, she just watched as her calf was rescued from the icy water.

“Interestingly, she just laid down and watched and allowed everybody to get the calf out,” Gocke said.

A moose calf watches as its calf is warmed up after being rescued from an icy pond.

A rope was tied around the calf, and it took at least four people to pull it out of the pond. By the time the young moose came out of the water, it had been in for at least 90 minutes and was hypothermic and exhausted.

By this time, two department wildlife veterinarians arrived on scene and went to work getting the calf warm by using blankets, towels and hot water bottles provided by all of the neighbors. It took about 45 minutes to get the calf warm and strong enough so it could stand on its own.

A moose calf is warmed with blankets, towels and hot water bottles after being saved from an icy pond.

The mother and calf were reunited and the next day, a Jackson resident sent over a picture of the two after he spotted them while driving.

Gocke noted the incident was a good lesson for landowners who are using aerators in their manmade ponds to stop using them during the winter months, as animals can easily fall through the ice and drown.

“It was an exhausting and stressful situation, but what a great story this was,” Gocke said. “We could not have done this without the help of the landowners and neighbors, though.”

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Man Attacked By Moose While Walking Dog Near Jackson

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A man was injured Friday morning when he was attacked by a moose near Jackson while walking his dog, according to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

The man was walking his dog on the bike path northeast of the Wilson Elementary School in Wilson around 7:15 a.m. on Friday when he noticed a bull moose approximately 50 yards away. His dog was at his side when the bull decided to charge him and knocked him down.

The man was admitted to the hospital for his injuries. Game and Fish officials received the report Saturday and promptly responded to the scene, but did not see the moose in the area.

While human injuries from moose are not common, Game and Fish officials are warning people that it is now the fall mating season for moose, elk and other ungulates and to give wildlife plenty of room.

Moose and elk are relatively common throughout the Jackson Hole valley, but especially along the Snake River corridor and slopes of the Teton Range, including residential areas associated with the towns of Wilson, Teton Village and Jackson.

The Jackson Game and Fish office commonly receives an increased number of calls this time of year regarding wildlife in residential areas, especially moose and bears.

Wildlife officials offer the following advice on how to avoid a conflict with these animals:

  • Do not feed wildlife.
  • Be especially watchful during times of low light. Moose and other animals can be difficult to see at night.
  • Look for fresh signs of wildlife, such as tracks or scat on trails, pathways, or around houses.
  • Never crowd or surround an animal and always allow the animal an escape route.
  • Always control pets while walking them and make sure there are no wildlife around before letting animals out of the house.
  • View and photograph animals from a distance.
  • Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray as a defense.

Moose attacks have been regularly reported over this summer. Incidents involving, moose, people and dogs have been a fairly common occurrence, happening multiple times in Colorado.

A Boulder, Colorado, woman was attacked by a moose in August after literally walking into it near Winter Park, Colorado. The moose reportedly attacked the woman twice. She said the second time, she played dead and the animal left.

An older New Mexico man was attacked in August by a bull moose while running with his two dogs on a trail in central Colorado.

An elderly woman was severely injured late in mid-August while dog-sitting when she was stomped by a cow moose in western Colorado.

In June, Shoshone National Forest officials warned of an aggressive cow moose seen around Sinks Canyon.

An elderly man was stomped by a moose in Colorado in late May. 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.

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Man Attacked By Bull Moose In Colorado While Running With His Dogs

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An older New Mexico man was attacked this week by a bull moose while running with his two dogs on a trail in central Colorado, according to wildlife officials.

The 62-year-old man was running on a trail around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday with his two dogs off-leash when the attack occurred.

He was taken to the emergency room of a Winter Park hospital with minor injuries and released later that day. His two dogs were unharmed.

“The dogs were 40 to 50 feet in front of him and came running back toward him,” said Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Serena Rocksund. “He stopped and saw the moose at 50 feet. At that point, the dogs ran past him and left the scene.”

Rocksund said the man reported he took two steps forward to get a better look at the moose and “those two steps caused the moose to charge.”

“He’s very lucky that his only injury is a hoof print-shaped laceration on the back of his head,” she said.

She added wildlife officers did not find the moose after walking the trail system around the area he was attacked.

“This is a good reminder for folks to keep their dogs on leash and give moose plenty of space when recreating outdoors,” Rocksund said. “It’s hard to see around these corners with the thick vegetation on these trails, so having a dog on a short leash here is key.”

A 79-year-old woman was attacked by a cow moose and severely injured in Colorado earlier this month. The woman was dog-sitting for one of the tenants living at the house when she saw an adult female moose and its two calves in the yard. When the woman no longer saw the moose in the area later that evening and believed it to be safe, she took the dog out on a leash in the yard. 

In early August, a man walking along a willow bottom heading towards a lake in Clear Creek County, Colorado, was charged by a bull moose he just happened to come across. That man came away uninjured as he dived behind a tree, which the bull moose hit.

In May, a man was knocked over on 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 and that is when the moose charged at him. That man was examined for minor injuries on site.

Fifteen years ago on March 26, 2006, a man from Grand Lake was attacked and critically injured by a bull moose as he walked to church. That man later died from his injuries on April 6. 

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Moose Calf Rescued From Burned Out Basement, Reunited With Mother

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A moose calf was rescued from a burned out basement and reunited with its mother in northern Colorado late last week, officials announced Monday.

The calf was trapped in the foundation of a house in Grand Lake that burned during last year’s East Troublesome Fire. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers received a call on the morning of Aug. 19 from residents in the house’s neighborhood reporting that a moose calf had fallen into the 4-foot deep foundation that was left when the rest of the structure burned.

The neighbors tried to rescue the calf themselves by creating a ramp with boards that might have allowed the calf to climb out, but it was unable to get enough traction to make the steep climb.

CPW Officer Serena Rocksund responded to the calls for help and found the calf’s agitated mother nearby. 

“The calf’s mother would come up to the foundation, walk over to the calf and touch muzzles and walk away about 40 yards,” Rocksund said. “The residents saw the calf and mother were stressed and needed help so they called CPW.”

Rocksund tranquilized both the cow moose and calf and the calf was removed from the basement. Then both animals were placed inside a wildlife transport trailer to be relocated to more suitable habitat.

The two were released in near Craig, Colorado, later that afternoon.

“It’s a good reminder that folks need to fence off foundations and cover their window wells because animals can get trapped and die,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington. “We’ve had some increased reports of human-moose conflicts near Grand Lake since the East Troublesome Fire burn and we didn’t want to take the risk that this moose might get trapped again if we released it near the burn area.”

Huntington said CPW has been working to grow the moose population near Craig and Meeker, Colorado.

“So this relocation actually was a win-win for these moose and the CPW project,” Huntington said.

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Elderly Woman Stomped, Severely Injured By Moose In Colorado

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

An elderly woman was severely injured late last week when she was stomped by a cow moose in western Colorado, according to wildlife officials.

The 79-year-old woman was injured late Friday night in a rural area outside a home south of Glenwood Springs.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the woman was dog-sitting for one of the tenants living at the house when she saw an adult female moose and its two calves in the yard. When the woman no longer saw the moose in the area later that evening and believed it to be safe, she took the dog out on a leash in the yard. 

That is when the attack occurred. Another resident of the house then observed the cow stomping on the victim.

The woman was taken to a local hospital and later that same night transported by helicopter to another hospital on the Front Range due to the extent of her injuries and care required.

“The incident occurred in an area of quality moose habitat and it is known that the moose frequent this area year-round,” Area Wildlife Manager Matt Yamashita said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the woman. This incident was no fault of her own. Conflicts with moose can happen, even when you follow best practices for living in moose habitat.”

The cow and its two calves have reportedly been in the area for an extended period of time without incident. No previous aggressive behavior has been reported. 

Wildlife officers searched the area for the cow and its calves on Saturday, Sunday and into Monday. They were using photos and videos of the moose from residents recorded on the day of the attack to try and identify physical characteristics or traits that could be used to identify the correct animal involved in the incident. 

Discussions with surrounding residents revealed that there are multiple sets of cows with calves in the area, making it challenging to locate the animal involved in the attack.

Wildlife officers have since discontinued an active search for the moose involved in the attack unless new information arises.

“This likely was an incident of a cow protecting her calves,” Yamashita said. “Since Friday night we have been talking with the local residents to educate them about living in moose habitat, the potential dangers associated with interacting with moose and actions they can take to minimize the risk of conflict.”

Earlier this month, a man walking along a willow bottom heading toward a lake in central Colorado was charged by a bull moose he just happened to come across. That man came away uninjured as he dived behind a tree, which the bull moose hit.

In late May in Steamboat Springs, a 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 and that is when the moose charged at him. That man was examined for minor injuries on site.

Fifteen years ago on March 26, 2006, a man from Grand Lake was attacked and critically injured by a bull moose as he walked to church. That man died from his injuries a couple weeks later.

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Colorado Wildlife Officers Relocate Moose From Parking Garage

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A young bull moose that made itself at home in Vail, Colorado, was tranquilized in a parking garage and removed from the area Tuesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife the department announced this week.

The moose is being relocated to a remote area about 120 miles north in a more appropriate moose habitat. Wildlife officers estimated it to be 2 to 3 years old.

The behavior of the moose indicated it was becoming accustomed to the area and was reluctant to leave on its own, so wildlife officers concluded relocation was the best move.

“Everything went smoothly this morning, no issues,” Wildlife Officer Devin Duval said. “We were definitely within that human health and safety realm where there could potentially be an injury to a human or the animal. That is the reason we decided to move it.”

Calls started trickling in a month ago related to the moose frequenting a few of Vail’s neighborhoods.

“Largely, most of these neighborhoods coincide with really optimal moose habitat, notwithstanding the fact there are a lot of pedestrians and human activity,” Duval said. “Moose are not fully concerned with that, they usually are unencumbered by the activity here in Vail.”

Wildlife officers kept an eye on on the moose for the better part of the month, but within the last 10 days, it started frequenting the ground level of the parking garages.

He was seen licking the walls structures, presumably for all the deicing agents that are used on the upper-story decks of the parking structure.

CPW worked closely with the Town of Vail to remove residual salts that may have served as an attractant, but the moose continued to remain in the area.  

“He was pretty regularly coming into the parking structure first thing in the morning and then would kind of clear out before it got too busy,” Duval said.

Wildlife officers did not feel the moose was acting aggressively, but it was agitated by the presence of dogs.

Wildlife officers decided to relocate the bull from the parking garage when it started spending the majority of the day in the area.

“This moose was not electing to spend time elsewhere, but now people can be at ease walking to work through that garage and the moose will be moved to more appropriate habitat,” Duval said.

The Vail Fire Department, Police Department and crews from the Vail Public Works Department all aided in moving the moose out of the garage. Wildlife officers estimated the bull to be 750 pounds.

“Coincidentally, it is kind of a serendipitous scenario in that our wildlife officials there were looking for some help with some translocation, so those folks are going to take this moose and find some more appropriate habitat for him,” Duval said.

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Motley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx Shares Video of Moose In His Yard, Didn’t Pet It

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Rock star and Motley Crüe bassist Nikki Sixx recently shared an Instagram post of a pretty incredible sight in his Jackson yard: a large moose.

Sixx posted the video late Wednesday evening of the moose in his yard in Jackson, where he has been living for more than a year at this point.

“It’s his yard, we just get to use it…sometimes,” Sixx wrote in text on the video of the moose, which was soundtracked by the late Tom Petty’s “Wildflowers.”

The video was (likely) taken by Sixx as he is driven past the moose, so we can definitely say he didn’t stop and try to pet it or take a picture with it.

The post had racked up more than 30,000 likes by Thursday morning and hundreds of comments from people who were amazed by the incredible creature just feet away from the rock star. Basically, we’re saying to be like Nikki Sixx and stay away from amazing (and aggressive) wild animals.

Plenty of fans urged Sixx to be cautious of the animal.

“Just don’t get too close to him, Nikki.  They’re very territorial and don’t like having humans too close,” said John McBride

“These fellas are amazing but they can turn on you in a second,” cautioned Scootomen.

Some had other advice.

“I would have shot him in the head right then and there. And then I would have put him on my grill and have mooseburgers by lunchtime,” Rico Wabbler said.

Last year, Sixx and his family made the jump to Wyoming officially, selling their California home and taking up residence in Jackson. The bassist spent much of last year praising the state and its offerings.

“It’s cheaper, no B.S. type of people, everyone is … extremely outdoors-driven…so because of that, everyone is extremely healthy,” Sixx said in a Los Angeles radio interview in September. “There’s no entertainment business here, so you’re not dealing with that type of stuff. You’re just dealing with blue collar people.”

Wyoming has also been helpful for his creative process, allowing him to paint, write and apparently make knives.

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Shoshone National Forest Officials Warn of Aggressive Moose

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Shoshone National Forest officials are warning visitors of an aggressive cow moose in the Sinks Canyon area after it charged at people and animals on a trail Monday.

The moose charged at people and dogs on the riverside trail near the Sinks Canyon Campground sometime Monday, forest officials said. No one was injured in the incident

Officials warned visitors to stay alert for moose and to not approach the animals. Officials also recommended that dogs in the forest be kept on a leash and under immediate control.

The warning is similar to those issued by Yellowstone National Park and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials in recent weeks, as it is calving season for both moose and elk.

On May 29 in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, 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 nearby. He stepped forward to grab the dog, which is when the moose charged him.

“Cows will be exhibiting normal protective behavior of their young,” said CPW 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.”

A second incident occurred last week in Evergreen, Colorado, 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.

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Sheridan Game Warden Commended For Saving Two Moose in Wyoming

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Game Wardens Association on Wednesday commended Sheridan Game Warden Ryan Kenneda for saving two moose during separate events this fall.

The organization praised its Sheridan colleague for rescuing a cow moose stuck in a fence on state land between Murphy Gulch and Interstate 90 while she was on patrol back in October.

The moose attempted to cross the fence, but had gotten three of its legs tangled in the fencing. Kenneda removed the wires from the moose’s legs and after a short recovery time, the moose was able to stand and move on its own.

The moose has been seen in the area with its calf and appears to have suffered no lasting injuries.

Just a few days later, Kenneda got to assist with another moose call when the Wyoming Game and Fish Department was alerted by a hunter about a young bull moose in Bighorn National Forest that appeared to have been shot or injured.

When personnel found the moose, it was alert, but wedged between two tree saplings and unable to stand.

“From what we could tell, as the moose walked between two large saplings, it lost its footing and fell onto its right side,” said Kenneda. “As it fell, its two right legs slid under a fallen tree where there was about eight inches of clearance. All the legs were mobile, but could not get traction to allow the animal to get to its feet.”

Kenneda, Sheridan Wildlife Biologist Tim Thomas, Sheridan Fisheries Supervisor Paul Mavrakis and Fisheries Technician Nathan Jaksha removed the obstructions, checked for injuries and were able to get the animal into a kneeling position.

When Jaksha checked on the animal two hours later, it had recovered and left the area.

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Wyo Moose Population Drops Amid ‘Perfect Storm’ Of Issues

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By Nicole Blanchard, Cowboy State Daily

Hundreds of people on Facebook were alarmed recently when a graphic shared widely on social media showed Wyoming’s moose population has been decimated in recent years, dropping from more than 10,000 animals in the mid-1990s to 1,500 by 2017. 

Between 2011 and 2012 alone, the graph showed the population plummeting by more than 4,000 animals. Wyoming Sen. Ogden Driskill shared the image on his Facebook page, pointing toward the rising wolf population as the culprit for the decline, like many others did.

“At what point do the moose become endangered and we start killing wolves to save an endangered species????” Driskill wrote in January.

The graph is not entirely accurate, according to Wyoming Game and Fish Department officials.

“That graph had quite a few errors in it,” said Doug Brimeyer, the department’s deputy chief of wildlife, including the fact it showed a steep 2012 population drop that was actually the result of a change in the way the agency estimated moose numbers.

But the state’s moose population has declined significantly in recent years because of a mix of factors, Brimeyer said.

“I think it’s unfair to put it off on one single cause, because I think moose have faced the perfect storm of issues,” he said.

Currently, the statewide moose population is Wyoming is just under 3,500 animals, Brimeyer said. And the graph shared on social media isn’t all wrong — the population has been trending downward since hitting 10,000 in the mid-1990s.

“Overall, we’ve seen some significant declines over the last 25 years,” Brimeyer said. “Historically, it’s obviously a declining trend.”

Moose challenges

The “perfect storm of issues” that moose are facing is widespread. Officials in Idaho, Utah and Montana have reported similar population declines, a trend that’s raised concern since the early 2000s.

“They’re influenced by a whole variety of issues,” Brimeyer said.

Predation from wolves, grizzly bears and mountain lions plays a role.

“Wolves start showing up in the late ‘90s,” Brimeyer said. “Around the same time, grizzly bears start expanding their range. They’re all a piece of the puzzle. I don’t want to diminish the role that predation played, because it’s pretty significant.”

Brimeyer said wolf hunting seasons are successfully keeping the predators in check in Wyoming, which could prove beneficial to moose.

In addition to predation, moose are threatened by other environmental factors, from massive wildfires that destroy habitat to tiny parasites that can bring mighty moose down from the inside.

Brimeyer said warmer, drier weather in Wyoming in recent years has made it easier for parasites like winter ticks, which attach themselves to moose in the fall, to stay alive and feed on the moose.

“In dry falls, those animals tend to pick up a lot of (winter ticks), which can affect their ability to maintain their nutritional status,” Brimeyer said. “Some of these animals can carry a very high tick load.”

A 2018 study on New Hampshire moose found that animals with high ticks loads died of emaciation and malnutrition linked to the arachnids.

Wyoming moose have also been affected by a carotid artery worm, a parasite transmitted by horseflies that constricts blood flow and can lead to death. The parasite’s target host, deer, are often asymptomatic.

“The moose is the wrong host for this parasite, so they have symptoms where they start walking in circles and eventually die,” Brimeyer said.

Humans aren’t blameless in the decline, either. Brimeyer said the department has seen an uptick in vehicle collisions resulting in moose fatalities.

Saving the moose

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has long been looking for ways to boost struggling moose numbers. Over the last 15 years, Brimeyer said, the agency has consistently decreased moose tag numbers and changed the structure of its hunting season to give the animals a better chance at recovery.

In the 1990s, Game and Fish changed regulations to ban hunters from harvesting cow moose with calves at their side. Around 2000, the agency eliminated cow moose hunts in some units. 

“In the ‘90s, we were harvesting over 1,000 moose,” Brimeyer said. “In 2019, we harvested about 300 moose.”

The efforts could be paying off — although it is difficult to determine because moose are notoriously difficult to count. Despite their huge size, moose are elusive and largely solitary.

“Right now, there’s no feasible census techniques out there,” Brimeyer said, adding that Game and Fish Department is working on trail camera counts, as well as DNA sampling of hair and fecal pellets to try to identify animals.

Still, department counts show some potentially good news for moose. Calf ratios are improving in Western Wyoming, where officials counted more than 2,000 specimens in 2018.

“We’re optimistic that Wyoming’s moose populations are beginning to change a bit,” Brimeyer said.

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