Signs are posted at the trailheads near the water treatment plant along Fish Creek that warn about a moose in the area.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Signs are posted at the trailheads near the water treatment plant along Fish Creek that warn about a moose in the area.

Steamboat Springs woman recovering after moose attack

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— A Steamboat Springs woman is expected to be OK after apparently being attacked by a moose Sunday.

When reached on her cellphone Wednesday morning, Pam Vanatta said she still was at Yampa Valley Medical Center and would be going home Thursday. Vanatta, a Steamboat real estate agent, said she did not want to talk about the incident until she was released.

Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said he learned about the incident Monday from one of Vanatta’s friends. It reportedly happened on a trail near the water treatment plant east of The Sanctuary subdivision.

The area is posted with signs warning that moose are frequently in the area.

Cam Boyd, Vanatta’s business partner at Prudential Steamboat Realty, said Vanatta was walking her two dogs when they started barking at a moose. That moose turned and walked into the woods but another approached Vanatta.

“She turned to run away from it, and that’s the last thing she remembers,” Boyd said.

Haskins said it was his understanding that Vanatta was hiking her dogs off leash.

Haskins said Vanatta lost consciousness but later made it back to her home in The Sanctuary. Her husband then took her to the hospital.

Vanatta suffered a cut on the back of her head that required 12 staples, Boyd said.

Haskins said doctors think the cut was consistent with having been caused by a hoof.

Boyd said Vanatta also had bruises and suffered a concussion that has kept her in the hospital.

“She’s feeling a lot better today,” Boyd said Wednesday.

Haskins said two wildlife officers went to the trail on which Vanatta was hiking, and they located an area where they think the incident might have occurred.

“There were no moose around and no way to identify a particular moose that might have been involved,” Haskins said.

If wildlife officers knew which moose was responsible, it likely would be euthanized.

Haskins said he had heard about several dogs being hurt or killed by a moose in the past in Routt County, but this was the first time he had heard of a person being harmed in his 33 years working for Parks and Wildlife.

Oftentimes, a dog is involved with human-moose encounters, Haskins said.

“The wolf is really the only natural predator a moose has, so when a moose sees a dog, it thinks wolf,” Haskins said.

This season in Grand County, there were two incidents of moose charging a woman with dogs. Both women were hospitalized but survived.

If people encounter a moose, wildlife officials advise them to enjoy the viewing opportunity from a distance and to look for signs of moose aggression, which include laid back ears and raised hairs on the hump. An aggravated moose also might lick its snout.

If a moose acts aggressively, look for an escape route and give the moose one, as well. Then slowly walk away to a safe location. If a moose charges, run as fast as possible, and put something between you and the moose such as a tree, car or large rock.

Aside from the moose incident Sunday, Haskins said there have not been any other major incidents involving wildlife. He also said the bears have been behaving themselves. The berry crop has been great this year, he said, so the bears have had an ample natural food source.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland

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Comments

rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

What this town needs is my Moosie Posse. We've dealt with problems like this before, mainly in Maine, and last in Alaska. We just round up the pesky critters and put 'em in a line, then go down and check hooves; usually it's the front ones. Trace amounts of blood can remain for weeks, DNA testing confirms our suspicions, and the guilty beast becomes steaks and riblets, for the benefit of society in general, and our hungry hunters -- er, posse -- in particular. Then we make lots of sausage, and sell it at a benefit auction, Cookie doing the honors. Give me a call.

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

A moose that is aggressive and attacks a person with dogs off lease has shown it understands what is responsible for it being threatened and is taking the intelligent effective response. It should not be killed. As long as it is defending itself from what is objectively a threat then it should be left alone. Only if it is actively seeking out human interaction should it then be killed.

Humans that brings dogs off lease to an area marked as having moose should known they are taking a risk and should be smart enough to leave it alone.

It is unfortunate that a person was hurt and hopefully she quickly makes a full recovery. But we should not blame a moose for reacting to being threatened by off lease dogs.

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Scott -- I was hoping you'd be our bait. If anybody can piss off a moose...

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walt jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Been saying those last 2 paragraphs of Scotts in my head all morning.

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Again I am reminded: Facetious, as a style, is wasted on the obtuse.

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Scott Wedel 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Article said if the moose could be identified then it would be put down.

I was responding to the article, not your goofy comment.

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jerry carlton 6 months, 3 weeks ago

"off lease dogs" Where can I get a lease on a dog? Do not want to own one, just lease it for a year.

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john bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

sorry guys , but I agree with Scott on this one. What arrogance to let your dogs off lease er, uh, leash with warning signs posted. While i am sorry someone got hurt she's lucky to be alive. Now , don't we have some rules for harassing wildlife? Seems to me the human not the dogs need some kind of punishment. Suppose they ran across a flock of sheep? The dogs would have their just reward by the protectors. Excuse me for being mean spirited but, come on , the wildlife have more of a right to survive. IMHO.That's what they do when seemingly provoked , defend themselves, Stupid humans

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Bill Dalzell 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Come on John... Really. Do you know what happened? The dogs were off a leash, so you just assume that they attacked the Moose or were aggressive. Enlighten us. Lets here your accurate version of the story, as I am sure you are in the know. Stupid Bloggers

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john bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

no, seems they brought the moose to her, not in the know at all, yes I agree, stupid bloggers. do you here often? oops grammar police, sorry , couldn't help myself. ~;0) Hum, I wonder what that sign means, Moose in the area? With dogs off lease......LOL

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john bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Enough of that , R.I.P. Amy Dombroski...... Hey Pilot, got a story on that ?

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walt jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Hey Bill just because you have a different opinion than someone else doesn't mean they are stupid.

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I've seen this before. Once they get blood on their hooves, they become addicted. They want more. They turn into what we in the trade call a "bad moose." Even if you relocate them, they'll seek out hunters, poor fishermen, innocent hikers -- anybody, to satisfy the blood lust.

This is what we get for messing with Nature, introducing a non-native species. If James Crawford would have seen a moose, he would have kept on going. If the moose didn't chase him out. Carl Howelsen would've found Vail, they'd call it Moose River, not Bear or Yampa, and nobody would live here, except the mooses. But nope, here we are.

Then along come the "naturalists."

Better call my service, before it's too late.

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James Earley, MCSE 6 months, 3 weeks ago

For me, off leash dogs and feces on the hiking trails are really tainting my Steamboat Hiking Experience. I had an off leash dog jump all over me and my family 2 weekends ago on that very trail. Just saying...

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Where's the Bad Moose when ya need him? (her, it...)

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john bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

whats the toll free number to call , Rhys ? might need to weed out a few around here.....

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Volcano in Yellowstone? Nuclear disaster? Stray asteroid? China? Gun control? Fluoride?

These are theoretical threats. The Bad Moose is for real. Why do you think everybody leaves Maine?

Just click my name. If called upon, I will serve.

Seeking live decoys, barky dog a plus. Lucrative compensation, upon success. Insurance required.

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jerry carlton 6 months, 3 weeks ago

John Grammar police are good. Glad I have some help. If all our deceased english teachers rolled over in their graves at the same time, it might effect the earths rotation and make us wobble more than the federal government already is.

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john bailey 6 months, 3 weeks ago

I thought that was the moon.......now, which bad moose to pick? hula parts are in !! ~;0)

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rhys jones 6 months, 3 weeks ago

Jerry, you may be on to something. Have you ever met a moose with bad grammar? NO. Probably never will, either. Maybe that's why they're pissed. Can anybody state for a fact moose can't read? Negative again.

The problem is worse than I thought. Public outcry is enormous; it's the talk of the town. I'm going to have to expand the Moosie Possie. I thought about the Mooseketeers, too cutesy, settled on Moose Busters. Who ya gonna call?

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rhys jones 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Okay okay, thank you very much, response is great, love you all, but phone lines are closed now, we have all the volunteers we need. I see there are many of us who recognize the mangy moose for what he is, a freeloading, smelly, flea-ridden, vegetation-consuming, flatulance-emitting, insecure (not as big as a cow, nor as cool as a horse) overgrown rat with hooves, optional antlers... watch out, Mr. Moose. We know where you live. I'm not listed.

Funny all the applicants from Hayden, hung up as soon as we said "grammar test" but you never can be too careful...

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Bill Dalzell 6 months, 2 weeks ago

Yes I spelled hear wrong. Stupid bloggers was a play on stupid humans. Yes telling someone how dumb and wrong they are when an injury or deaths occur is lame. It consistently happens here. It is still rude and insensitive.

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john bailey 6 months, 2 weeks ago

no worries Bill, I just get tired of the wildlife getting punished for stupid human activity, just leave the damn animals alone. nothing like seeing stupid humans taking pictures too close , not realizing they are about to get the beating of their life or,,,, worse. Simple as that.

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rhys jones 6 months, 2 weeks ago

We live in this town, way up in the hills (imagine music symbols)
And you won't believe what we do for thrills:

While city folks chase stoplights, and robbers, and bucks
Our moose chase us, and who gets the yuks?

I got the Bad Moose Blues, woh-oh, I got the Bad Moose blues...

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