BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. (KDVR) — We see it every year in Colorado: a video surfaces of someone getting way too close to wildlife.
The latest one came out of Breckenridge in late February.
A woman was captured on camera petting a moose and then almost getting stomped.
People can be heard in the video, yelling at her to get away from the moose—mixed in with expletives.
“I’m the one who gasped in the video. It was horrifying,” said Anna Stonehouse, who posted the video to her facebook account the next day.
Stonehouse had gotten her phone out to take a quick video, when she saw the woman approach—so she kept rolling.
“I thought it was pretty shocking and everyone else around did too,” recalled Stonehouse. “We all wanted to keep our distance and get away and let the moose do it’s thing. To see someone act that way, it seemed very childish and inappropriate and ignorant,” she added.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife says moose can be both territorial and aggressive, but say the signs are often subtle to the untrained eye.
“When they’re agitated, they won’t hesitate to become aggressive and kick or charge, so we definitely encourage people to give wildlife their space,” said Travis Duncan with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
People on social media speculated the woman in the video was trying to herd the moose away from an elderly woman. Stonehouse says that wasn’t the case, though.
“He wasn’t going for the elderly woman,” she told Fox31. “This girl was harassing the moose. She was following it aggressively across the street.”
CPW wasn’t buying that theory either, and cited the woman.
Potential fines are $200, for violating C.R.S. 33-6-128, harassment of wildlife.
CPW says this could have turned out much worse.
“Moose can weigh up to 1,000 pounds,” said Duncan. “They’re deceptively fast. This person is lucky they weren’t injured, because this could have been catastrophic.”
These types of occurrences are common with heavy snowfall, according to the Breckenridge Police Department.
They were dispatched to 34 wildlife-related calls for service over the last month, and say 90% of those were for moose.
One tourist—Ed Holmstrom—captured a moose in downtown Breckenridge, about a week before Stonehouse posted her video.
“Most people just froze and let it go. One guy, as the moose passed, he kind of reached his hand out and touched it. The moose didn’t seem bothered,” Ed Holmstrom.
Holmstrom says he was surprised by how unbothered people seemed to be by the moose, getting within feet of it.
“Your mind can kind of go to, ‘well, it’s used to people. Of course it’s not going to hurt me.’ But the reality of it is, they’re enormous. Keeping your distance—really a smart idea.”
CPW recommends people use what’s called the “rule of thumb.”
“If you hold your hand out at arm’s length, and you can cover that animal with your thumb, then you’re at a good distance. If you can’t, then you need to back up and give that animal space,” said Duncan.
Duncan says moose are very reactionary when it comes to dogs—often looking at them as prey.
He says the best thing you can do is keep them under control—and on a leash—while out on a walk.
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