(TELLER COUNTY, Colo.) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is renewing a warning to stay away from wildlife after two hikers encountered a defensive cow moose and her calf in Teller County on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
CPW said the hikers and their three dogs came across the adult moose and calf near the popular Crags Trail, which is off Colorado Highway 67 about three miles south of Divide. All three dogs were reportedly on leash.
The hikers told CPW that they saw the cow moose and its calf in the first clearing about a mile into the Crags Trail. The hikers observed the moose for a bit, then tried to go around while keeping their distance. The moose, however, continued to close the distance.
As the moose approached, one of the dogs began to bark. CPW said the moose then rushed the hikers and trampled one of them. They were able to get the moose off and tried to run away, but the moose continued to chase after them down the trail.
Eventually, the moose stopped chasing them and they were able to get to their vehicles without further incident. The injured hiker was able to walk out on their own and went to the hospital to be evaluated. Fortunately, they sustained only minor injuries.
“This incident is a reminder of why we warn everyone to respect wildlife and give them their space,” said Tim Kroening, CPW’s Area Wildlife Manager for the Pikes Peak region. “We know Colorado residents love their dogs. But understand that moose see dogs as predators and react in defense of themselves and their young.”
In another instance, FOX21 News Director Joe Cole was hiking the Crags Trail with his wife Sarah in July, when they stumbled upon what they believe was the same moose and calf from the scenario above. As Joe and Sarah kept a safe distance on the trail, the moose quickly turned its focus to an approaching hiker with her dog. After the moose noticed the woman and dog it quickly positioned itself in front of the calf to protect it.
Below are photos Joe and his wife Sarah captured of the moose on July 22.
CPW said the moose population in the state is growing, especially in Teller County. There are currently estimated to be 3,500 moose in the state, compared to 2,250 in 2013. With more people moving into Colorado and a growing moose population, it’s becoming imperative to take precautions when recreating in the state.
After a 2022 incident on the Crags Trail in which a woman broke her arm, CPW posted signs warning people that there are moose in the area with tips on avoiding dangerous encounters. CPW also produced a video illustrating how people can be safe and responsible around moose, which can be found on YouTube.
There have been two other reported moose attacks on humans in Colorado this year, both in the Boulder County area – another area with growing moose and human populations.
“This cow moose was exhibiting classic protective behavior of its calf,” Kroening said. “If you are in the backcountry, give wildlife extra space. Especially when wildlife are raising their young.”
CPW also recommended always leashing your dog or leaving pets at home when traversing areas known for wildlife.
“Do not approach, touch, or feed wild animals,” Kroening said. “Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance. Keep your dog on a leash if you see wildlife ahead of you on a trail, do not attempt to keep going. Instead, back away slowly and return the way you came.”