Moose wandering streets of downtown Steamboat shouldn’t come as surprise | SteamboatToday.com

Moose wandering streets of downtown Steamboat shouldn’t come as surprise

A moose passes in front of the Old Town Hot Springs earlier this week. As the snow piles up, moose often use plowed sidewalks and bike trails to get from one point to another. Residents should be aware of their surroundings and aware there is always a chance they could cross paths with a moose.

— Residents of Steamboat Springs should be aware, they should be cautious and they should be responsible — but they shouldn't be surprised.

Kris Middledorf, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said residents of Steamboat Springs should be alert due to a number of recent moose sightings in the downtown area. He said he is aware of at least two moose families, each including a cow and two calves, hanging out in the Steamboat Springs area.

Middledorf said that it's likely there are more animals in the area looking for vegetation to feed on and places to bed down. He said the animals have been seen in the downtown area the past couple of days, but residents can expect to come across animals anywhere and anytime.

"At any point of the day, residents might cross a path with a moose," Middledorf said. "The best thing to do is back away and keep your distance. Dogs need to be leashed."

Middledorf said moose are more than capable of making their way through the deep snow that is normally found in the valley at this time of the year. However, he said that moose like to take the path of least resistance and it's not uncommon to find them on bike paths, ski trails or even sidewalks as they migrate from one area to another.

He said some of the animals will come to lower elevations hoping to find the vegetation they like to feed on. He said the branches of ornamental trees, pine trees and willows offer the animals a tasty meal that will help carry them through the winter months.

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During the past couple of weeks, moose have been seen grazing on the vegetation at the Yampa River Botanic Park, they have stopped traffic as they make their way across an icy U.S. Highway 40 and have startled a few residents as they strolled along sidewalks in downtown Steamboat Springs.

"People need to keep their pets on a leash this time of year,” Middledorf said. “The snowdrifts are really high, and, who knows, a person could come around a corner, and there is a moose, with no easy escape route."

Middledorf said moose are impressive and often appear to be docile but he cautions people to keep their distances from the animal, and if possible, they should put a large object — like a car or a tree — between them and the moose.

He also cautions people against taking a "selfie" or stopping their car on an icy road to take a photograph of the animals. Moose are large, strong and surprisingly quick, and no photograph is worth getting into a traffic accident.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966