Feb 19, 2013 12:51 PM by Elaine Sheridan
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is asking for help tracking moose in the South Park area because the animals continue to expand their range across the Continental Divide and into the foothills of the Front Range.
Starting this February, biologists will be collaring five cow moose in South Park east of the Continental Divide from Fairplay to the Guanella Pass road. The GPS collars will allow biologists to track movements of the moose, determine habitat preference, and learn more about population size.
Moose were reintroduced into Colorado in 1979 in North Park and have expanded their range throughout Middle Park and South Park. Colorado's moose population has grown statewide to about 1700. Typical moose range in the Rocky Mountains includes a mixture of willow, spruce, fir and aspen. Willows are the usually preferred habitat in the winter months and a variety of grasses and forbs will utilized by moose in the summer.
Moose are the largest of the deer family and can weigh up to 1,100 pounds. Moose are excellent swimmers and can run up to 50 mph. Their keen hearing and excellent sense of smell make up for their poor vision. Moose have long, coarse hair which keeps them warm in high elevations. Moose can be identified with their heavy, bulbous nose and a fold of skin, the "bell," which hangs from their throat.
Counting and studying moose can be difficult because they don't roam in herds and their dark hides make them difficult to see in the trees. Radio collars help biologists collect data on moose by locating them from the ground and from the air. Biologists use tranquilizer guns to immobilize moose, fit a radio collar, and then place ear tags on the moose. Capture of moose can be done from the ground or by helicopter. Other biological data is collected from the moose such as blood for disease testing; body condition is assessed and progesterone levels can be evaluated for determining pregnancy. The data collected during capture and the data from the GPS collars, allows CPW to better understand and manage Colorado's moose.
"We are very fortunate to have growing moose populations in Colorado. This study will help us understand more about those growing populations." says Shannon Schwab, Wildlife Biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
The collars that will be used on the South Park moose will be brown with a green placard on each side. Each green placard will have a letter to help identify the moose. Sightings of moose in the South Park area would be helpful for CPW's efforts. You can call Shannon Schwab at 303-291-7367 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with information on moose locations in the South Park area.