Steamboat Springs The moose population in Routt County has grown to the point that Colorado Division of Wildlife officials are preparing for the likelihood that for the first time a limited number of moose hunting licenses could be issued here in 2011.
“We’ve got a good mix of sex and age classes, and we’re seeing a well established population,” Area Wildlife Manager Jim Haskins said. “We feel moose are comfortably established in the Elk River Valley with the habitat to sustain the population. We don’t think it would negatively impact that population to open it to limited harvest.”
Haskins quickly added that no definite decision about selling moose tags has been made for the sprawling Game Management Unit 14 that stretches north of Steamboat Springs to the Wyoming border on the west side of the Continental Divide.
However, he said that because his agency’s big-game hunting brochure must be prepared in advance, codes are being readied for the likelihood of a moose hunt north of Steamboat in fall.
Haskins said that since moose were first reintroduced on the east side of the Park Range, the intent has been to see them spread to the Yampa Valley and flourish to the extent that the population would support a limited hunt.
DOW spokesman Randy Hampton said the number of moose tags issued statewide is small compared with those for elk. In 2009, he said, 187 moose licenses were issued, 100 of them for cows. Only 150 moose were harvested statewide in 2009, compared with a typical annual elk harvest of 50,000 animals.
District Wildlife Manager Danielle Domson said a recent aerial survey of the game unit located 30 moose. During her own trip in the helicopter, Domson said she counted 15 moose, including six or seven bulls, with the balance being cows and calves. Most of the cows had a calf with them, Domson added.
The 30 moose spotted in Game Management Unit 14 don’t represent the total number of animals in Routt County, Haskins said.
There are also moose in South Routt.
– To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org