WYOMING – Relocating moose is rare for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and, truth be told, not the easiest thing in the world to do.
On October 30, wildlife managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, along with the help of the Uinta County Sheriff’s Office, Mountain View Police Department, Town of Mountain View Maintenance Department, and Union Wireless Employees, moved a cow and two calf moose out of the town limits to the Lonetree area.
Mountain View Game Warden Allen Deru said that over the last few months, seven different moose have been spotted in town at any given time, and he was aware that four more moose could be in the area.
“The relocation of the moose went as well as can be expected considering we had to move three moose,” Deru said. “We are still hoping the other moose in town will leave for the winter months, but relocation efforts are being discussed for them as well.”
The mature bull in town has not been relocated due his overall docile demeanor and the concerns related to the hunting season being open for moose. Once the drugs are administered to an animal, that animal cannot be consumed for an extended period of time.
Any animal that is moved during a hunting season does receive a “call before eating” ear tag in one of the ears. The main concern is that, if for some reason the ear tag falls out, anyone who eats the animal will face serious health risks. People wait a long time to draw a moose license. Once they harvest a moose they want to be able to eat it, which may not be possible.
Moose live in riparian (river corridor) areas. Mountain View has more quality riparian habitat than almost any other town in Wyoming. Historically, moose moved into the town limits, but stayed along the river. This year they have been roaming away from the river and wandering through town.
In addition, moose typically leave during the fall to mate. This did not happen this year and, consequently, there have been higher than average moose densities in town since late July and early August.
“We believe the higher densities of moose in town were caused by very low precipitation levels throughout the summer months, making moose habitat quality poor enough they were seeking better forage options,” Deru said.
The process to relocate a moose is very dangerous for humans and very stressful for the moose. The process is very labor intensive and time consuming. Human safety is first priority. Careful thought and consideration is given to the behavior of the animal or animals being relocated.
Only personnel trained in the handling and administering of immobilization drugs are allowed to sedate an animal. Several people are needed to load the large animal into a horse trailer. Relocation is usually the last option considered due to the dangerous nature of the process.
“There are no perfect solutions to the issues associated with moose in town, and there will always be moose in Mountain View as long as there is quality riparian habitat for them,” Deru admitted.
The Game and Fish offers some moose safety tips: Preventing an encounter
- Never approach a moose.
- Observe moose from a distance, using binoculars or a spotting scope for closer look. ·
- Cow moose with calves can be very aggressive, especially in the spring and early summer after their birth. Cow moose are very protective of their calves. Never walk between a cow moose and her calf (calves).
- Bull moose can be very aggressive during the fall rutting season.
- If the moose lays its ears back, grunts, stops eating and looks at you, raises the hair on its hump, lowers its head and licks its lips or clicks its teeth, those are all signs the moose is agitated and you need to leave that area now.
- Feeding and or harassing moose is illegal.
- Keep dogs leashed and under control at all times. Moose and dogs do not mix!
If you encounter a moose
- Moose are active throughout the day, but more active at dawn and dusk.
- Moose are the largest member of the deer family but are very agile and can run up to 30 mph and they are good swimmers.
- Give moose plenty of room to escape and move on; do not back them into a corner or prevent them from moving away from you.
- Stay calm and do not run away. Talk, make some noise and make your presence known.
- Keep your eyes on the moose as you back away and if it begins to run at you, start running to find a tree or vehicle. Use something solid, such as a tree or vehicle, to hide behind and place that tree or vehicle between you and the moose.
- By chasing and agitating a moose that is in town, you make the situation worse by putting yourself in danger and the next person who encounters the animal.
Protecting personal property
- Panels or fencing. Residents of Mountain View have had good luck with putting up panels around trees or areas where they want to keep all wildlife out. A six-foot panel or fence is required.
- Woven wire or chicken wire and T-posts. Other residents have had a lot of success with using t-posts and woven wire around trees to keep the deer and moose from eating them.
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