Moose in our back yard

I clipped the leashes on the dogs and sleepily took them out for do their business at 7 a.m.  Shawnee instantly fixated on the forest below, intently staring.  Soon, I realized that yes indeed, the moose had returned and were bedded below our house near our septic field.

Since moose have been such a common sight in Nederland, I thought I’d dedicate today’s piece on moose trivia here in Colorado.  Most of this moose information comes from National Geographic’s site on moose.

  • Moose are not native to Colorado.  They were reintroduced in 1978, when 24 male and female moose were transplanted from nearby Wyoming and Utah.
  • Moose are the largest member of the deer family, weighing more than 1200 pounds, and standing over six feet tall.
  • That flap of skin that hangs underneath their neck is known as a bell.
  • Moose are equally at home in the water or on land.  They are excellent swimmers, with the ability to swim up to 6 miles per hour, over several miles, as well as go under water for up to 30 seconds.
  • Despite their big, bulky size, they can run up to 35 miles per hour.
  • Moose mate in the fall, and the female produces one to two calves the following spring, weighing around 30 pounds.
  • Their ears can rotate giving them stereophonic hearing.
  • Moose have few predators, and are mainly threatened when they are young by wolves or grizzly bears.  They can live up to 20 years in the wild.
  • Bull moose grow antlers each spring and shed them in the winter.  Moose antlers can weigh up to 40 pounds.
  • The fur of a moose is hollow, providing them insulation from the cold.
  • A moose’s front legs are taller than its back legs, allowing it to jump over obstacles.
  • Moose are herbivores, eating shrubby and woody plants.  Here in Colorado, they love browsing willow and young aspen, eating up to 73 pounds of food a day in summertime.

Moose have become much more common in the Front Range foothills the last ten years.  I can’t believe how frequently we see them in and around Nederland now.  Despite that, when I can sip coffee on my back deck and watch two moose browse the shrubs just a few feet from me, I find the experience magical.  As you spend time in the outdoors, please be respectful of these amazing animals, enjoy watching them in the natural habitat, but know they are wild and dangerous.