ASPEN, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued a waring to outdoors enthusiasts Thursday to stay away from moose.
The warning came after the U.S. Forest Service decided to close two trails at the far end of Maroon Bells because of concerns about two bull moose in the area this week.
The Crater Lake Trail and the scenic loop trail were closed on Tuesday, said spokesman Mike Porras. They reopened Wednesday.
The forest service consulted with Colorado Parks and Wildlife on the closure.
“This area is excellent habitat for moose,” said CPW Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. “It is also a very popular tourist destination for people from all over the country and world. Closing it was not an easy decision but we cannot take the chance of someone being seriously injured by a moose.”
Porras said CPW and the Forest Service has been warning hikers about staying away from wildlife, but that some hikers seem to be ignoring their advice.
“The moose are there to stay so we advise people to enjoy them but to do so responsibly and from a safe distance,” said Will. “Just remember, if the moose changes its behavior in any way because of your presence, you’re too close and it’s time to back away.”
Moose can grow up to 1200 pounds and can run up to 35 miles per hour. They do not fear people and will aggressively defend their young and their territory, Porras said.
Will said a couple from Boston were within 50 yards of a bull moose at Maroon Lake recently. At one point the bull charged them.
“These people took a big risk by getting that close. They were lucky they were not injured,” Will said.
“If things continue this way at Maroon Bells, it’s not if someone will be injured, but when,” added Will. “We take this very seriously and together with the U.S. Forest Service, we will explore a variety of options to make it safer.”
Wildlife officials say that since late 2012, at least six people in Colorado have been injured by moose.
Dogs can make moose more aggressive, Porras said.
“Moose respond to an approaching dog by trying to kill it because of their resemblance to wolves, a moose’s only natural predator. When the dog runs back to its owner, the moose often follows and attacks the owner as well,” Porras said.