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72 hours in Durango: Moose seen near Colorado Trail, tours neighborhoods, gets drugged

Wildlife officials move animal to San Juan National Forest
A young bull moose is seen in front of a home Wednesday on East Seventh Avenue in downtown Durango. The moose was tranquilized and taken to the San Juan National Forest. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

A young bull moose took up residency this week in Durango, apparently strolling in somewhere near the Colorado Trail, then wandering a couple of city neighborhoods and eventually being tranquilized and taken to the San Juan National Forest.

The moose sightings began Monday near the Colorado Trail and Junction Creek Road, west of Durango, according to a news release from Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The moose was spotted again the next day by residents in the Crestview neighborhood, in west Durango. By Wednesday morning, the four-legged creature had made its way to East Seventh Avenue, a downtown area known as The Grid, where a woman reported the animal in her backyard.

The young bull moose is pictured in front of homes on East Seventh Avenue on Wednesday in downtown Durango. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

CPW biologists and wildlife managers monitored the movements of the moose throughout the day, in part to keep residents safe and in part to prevent gathering crowds, the release said.

The moose spent Wednesday afternoon resting on a hillside just below Fort Lewis College and above a residential area. At 6 p.m., CPW tranquilized the moose and moved it to a waiting horse trailer, where it was loaded and taken away.

Steve McClung, assistant area wildlife manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, checks on a bull moose in a residential area of downtown Durango on Wednesday after he had successfully tranquilized it with a dart. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Steve McClung, assistant area wildlife manager for CPW, said young bulls are known to wander off from their more normal habitats this time of year in search of mates and their own territory. Normally, if they arrive in town, they make their way out of town without issue. But this one made its way to the middle of town and had no clear path for moving out, he said in the release.

“The risk of aggressive behavior toward pedestrians, especially those with dogs, it needed to be safely relocated,” McClung said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife safely loaded a young moose into a horse trailer where it could undergo examination and be tagged before being transported for release. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Biologists observed the health of the moose and tagged each ear, according to the release. Once in the trailer, another drug was administered to reverse the effects of the tranquilizer, and the moose was soon back on its feet, the release said.

The moose was released later that evening in “good habitat” in the San Juan National Forest, where there is a thriving moose population, the release said.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife safely loaded a young moose into a horse trailer where it could undergo examination and be tagged before being transported for release. (Courtesy of Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

Several moose have wandered into Durango in recent years, but all have moved on fairly quickly.

In September 2015, more than 100 people gathered to watch as a moose spent hours standing in the Animas River between Ninth Street and the DoubleTree Hotel.

“It is always best to be aware when around moose or in their habitat,” McClung said. “Keep dogs on leashes and keep your distance. If you want to get a picture, use a long lens and your zoom.”

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