Viewing Moose in Colorado

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to spot moose up in the high country — but did you know that this is only because of reintroduction efforts by Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW)? Until the late 1970s, the only moose in Colorado were those that wandered down from Wyoming, and this was rare. But in 1978 the agency — then known as the Colorado Division of Wildlife — began transplanting moose into Colorado from Wyoming and Utah. According to their Moose Reintroduction fact sheet, the animals have thrived and there are now estimated to be about 2,300 moose in our state.

Shiras moose are Colorado’s largest game animals, with a height of around 6 feet tall at the shoulder, and weighing up to 1,200 pounds! They are dark brown in color and have long legs and oversized snouts. Males (bulls) have a “beard” known as a bell, and their antlers have a flattened appearance. Sometimes from a distance it can be difficult to distinguish a moose from an elk, so to learn how to tell the difference, see this illustrated Elk & Moose Comparison brochure. Moose like to be close to water, so keep an eye out for them in or near lakes, ponds, and marshy areas.

Because of their large size, moose can be a danger to people and pets. So if you do see a moose, be sure to give it plenty of distance. It’s also important for motorists to be extra careful of moose; you can find tips for safe driving in moose country on CPW’s website.

Want to learn more about these charismatic animals? In the State Publications Library’s collection you can find resources including a video on moose viewing as well as various publications such as Moose on the Loose, a great resource for teaching kids about moose. Also included in the library collection are moose management plans (useful to biologists), and information on moose hunting. To find these and more search the library’s online catalog.

Grand Mesa, located east of Grand Junction, is an area where reintroduced moose have especially thrived. This Saturday, July 31, you can enjoy their annual Grand Mesa Moose Day, sponsored by CPW. The event features displays, guided hikes, and activities for the whole family.


Photos courtesy Colorado Parks & Wildlife (top) and National Park Service (bottom).