Wildlife Officials: Don't Feed Moose - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Wildlife Officials: Don't Feed Moose

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PRESS RELEASE FROM THE WASHINGTON DEPART OF FISH AND WILDLIFE: The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) could use your help to inform and educate the Spokane community about living with moose by relaying the following story (which happened so quickly that we unfortunately did not have time to invite your on-site coverage).

Yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 16) WDFW staff in Spokane County captured and re-located a young moose that had become habituated to people who were hand-feeding it. We believe that this moose, which was likely born last spring and lost its mother last fall, would have survived on its own if left alone. But residents in the Cheney-Spokane Road area southwest of Spokane evidently began hand-feeding it this winter and it became unnaturally bold in approaching people – a situation that can become very dangerous over time. Rather than wait until we were forced to remove such an animal lethally, we decided to re-locate it alive, as soon as an opportunity was available.

Attached are photos of the moose from yesterday’s operation: The first one shows the moose at the back door of Chaps Restaurant on Cheney-Spokane Road – a spot where food was regularly left out for it. Our staff, who darted the moose with a tranquilizer to transfer it in a trailer to a release site, reported that the moose was so familiar with people that it actually moved towards them, as if looking for food, when they captured it. The second photo shows the moose in the transport trailer (standing and alert after the tranquilizer drug was reversed.) The third photo shows the moose exiting the trailer at a release site in southern Pend Oreille County.

The following are key points about moose in our area that we encourage you to relay, including a link to our webpage on “Living With Moose”:

· Eastern Washington’s moose population has evidently grown in recent years, along with reports, concerns and complaints from residents

o 1,000 or more moose are estimated to live in eastern WA, mostly in the northeast

o Moose populations in many other states and provinces have declined in recent years, so our moose are a “point of pride” for Washington

· Moose wander into suburban and urban areas at various times of the year for various reasons

o Late spring – cow moose often move to lower elevations near water to calve; their yearlings (or older) calves follow, but then are pushed out of the family unit to make it on their own, often conflicting with people as they learn how to survive

o Summer – suburban moose seek relief from heat and alternatives to dry forage, using lawn sprinklers and backyard pools and irrigated landscape plants

o Fall – bull moose in the “rut” or breeding season are aggressively competitive with each other and following cows, unwary of people

o Winter – moose seek easy foraging when snow reduces natural food sources

· Moose usually don’t remain in one area for long, so often the best way to address potential problems is to leave them alone

o Keep dogs confined when moose are in the area; unlike deer, moose often choose “fight” or “flight” with canines of any kind (wild or domestic)

o Never attempt to approach or feed moose; use binoculars, scopes and telephoto camera lenses to enjoy them while they’re around

· WDFW staff may attempt to haze moose out of an urban area where they take up residence; occasionally we will go to the expense and time to capture (with tranquilizing drugs) and relocate troublesome moose that won’t leave urban areas

· Injured moose are rarely captured for rehabilitation because it is rarely successful; moose with serious injuries are humanely euthanized and the game meat is used to feed people in need; moose with minor injuries, such as a sprained or broken leg or foot, often survive well enough on their own

WDFW needs help from eastern Washington residents to live with moose and recommends reading our “Living with Moose” information on-line at http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/moose.html

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