A young bull moose caused quite a stir in two Parker neighborhoods before being tranquilized and relocated.
The moose traveled through gullies, drainage ditches and greenbelts throughout Parker. The first reports came in to Douglas County authorities the night of Oct. 25 from residents in Stroh Ranch. The Parker Police Department received calls starting around 7 a.m. Oct. 28 after the moose was seen southwest of Jordan Road and Lincoln Avenue in the Stonegate subdivision, said Sgt. Andy Coleman, spokesman for the Parker Police Department.
The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife responded and monitored Parker residents while they gathered to catch pictures of the moose. Police warned people to not get too close, as moose are known to charge when they feel threatened.
The moose rested in brush near a recreation trail for more than two hours, and shutterbugs waited in the cold, damp weather to get the perfect shot. That moment came around 2:15 p.m., when the moose stood up and took a drink from a puddle in a creek bed.
Justin Olson, the wildlife officer at the scene, said his first priority was making sure there were no issues when school let out at Pine Grove Elementary on Stonegate Parkway. The moose was three blocks away about an hour before classes were scheduled to be dismissed Oct. 28. Recess was held indoors.
The moose allowed spectators to take photos from as little as 20 feet away, and Olson described it as “very docile.” However, he kept a close eye on its behavior to make sure it didn't display signs of agitation or aggression.
Wildlife officials initially said tranquilization would be a last resort because of the potential stress it causes to the animal. Officers expected the moose to move on once darkness set in, but when they saw the morning of Oct. 29 that he had traveled only 100 yards, they decided that tranquilization would be in the best interest of the moose and residents because of the continued public attention, said Jennifer Churchill, spokeswoman for Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife.
“We do everything we can to protect these animals,” Churchill said. “Our district wildlife officers, who are all trained biologists, they consult with the state veterinarian and make a joint decision.”
The moose was calm when the tranquilizing dart was fired and there was no chase. It was transported “40-plus miles west” beyond Douglas County’s borders and is not expected to return, she said.
Sightings of moose in populated areas of Douglas County are extremely rare, although a bull moose was sighted near Castle Rock the weekend of Oct. 26. A cow and calf were also reported near Castle Rock within the last month, Olson said. There have been recent reports of a young bull moose wandering Elbert County.
Churchill said there could be more than one moose in the area. The species was reintroduced in the North Park area in the 1970s, and they're branching out as the population thrives.
“We see this in young male animals. Once they get kicked out of the family group, they search for new habitat, but they won't stay where there aren't any females,” Churchill said.
Olson said he had hoped the moose would find his way south along the Cherry Creek corridor or through the Rueter-Hess Reservoir property on the western edge of Parker. Olson, Churchill and Coleman all said they believe this to be the first report of a moose in the Parker area.
“We've had coyotes, mountain lions, and bears as recently as last year, but never a moose,” Coleman said.