Moose in Colorado

When 12 moose were transplanted to North Park from Utah, in March, 1978, there was a general consensus among State Wildlife officials that these large herbivores had never been common in Colorado. In early 1979, another 18 moose were brought to the upper watershed of the North Platte River from Wyoming and, unchallenged by natural predators (wolves and grizzlies), the herd blossomed to 600 individuals by the mid 1990s; in fact, by that time, the moose had spread across the Rabbit Ears and Park Ranges, colonizing the Upper Colorado, Fraser and Upper Yampa river valleys.

Gratified by the success of this reintroduction program, the Division of Wildlife initiated a moose hunting program and transported some of the herd to the Upper Rio Grande Valley, near Creede. Continued expansion of the Colorado moose population has prompted additional transplantations within the State, including the establishment of a herd atop Grand Mesa, east of Grand Junction. Today, estimates of the Colorado moose population range from 1600 to 2000 individuals, likely far more than ever inhabited this portion of the Southern Rockies.

As one who has been interested in wildlife conservation for most of my life, I have gradually come to the conclusion that Federal and State Wildlife Departments are more closely aligned with hunting, fishing and tourism interests than they are with those who truly understand our natural ecosystems. Wildlife conservation programs must pay close attention to the balance of predator and prey populations; the rapid expansion of Colorado's moose herd over the past 30 years will surely produce negative consequences.