Colorado’s moose population has boomed over the past few decades and that’s led to surprise encounters between human and beast in mountain resort towns, including house crashing.
This year in Breckenridge, the sound of breaking glass prompted residents to call police to report a burglar. Instead, officers found an adult cow moose curled up on the basement floor. In nearby Keystone, firefighters extracted a bull moose lodged in a home’s window well for six hours.
The state estimates today’s moose population at 2,500 following “re-introduction” efforts that started in 1978 with 12 animals from Utah.
Before 1978, only the occasional moose from Wyoming wandered across the state line for a visit. Officials advocated the regional transfers to Colorado “because of the abundant habitat available and lack of natural predators,” according to Colorado Parks & Wildlife.
Wildlife officers and emergency squads employ creativity in dealing with the half-ton intruders who don’t take kindly to humans. A man walking his dog was injured by a mother moose with her calf this month in Breckenridge, according to the Vail Daily.
At the Keystone window well incident, firefighters built “a makeshift contraption comprised of a ladder and a pulley system attached to a nearby tree” to winch the moose after it was tranquilized, Colorado Parks & Wildlife said in a press release. “One thing the public should know – tranquilizing a moose is nowhere near as simple as it sounds,” Tom Davies, a district wildlife manager, said afterwards.
At the Breckenridge home break-in, first responders moved the tranquilized beast up a stairwell, out a door and onto a trailer. It was then released into the wild.
Jeff Berino, chief of Summit Fire & EMS in Silverthorne, said it used to be “a special treat” to see moose. So far this year, his firefighters have responded to three calls involving the animals, including Keystone’s moose in the window well and to assist wildlife officers with a moose with “something trapped in its antlers,” Berino said.
Drew Hoehn, a battalion chief with the Red, White & Blue Fire District, which provided muscle for the Breckenridge moose home invasion, said: “We do not have policy on dealing with wildlife, but rather defer to law enforcement.” The team’s work with other agencies is essential in tackling such “rather unorthodox requests,” Hoehn said.
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