It may be hard to believe, but until 20 years ago hardly anyone ever saw a moose in Colorado–let alone hunted one. That’s far from the case today. The state's moose populations are thriving, thanks to successful reintroduction efforts by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Until the late 1970s, only a few stray moose would wander into northern Colorado from herds in Wyoming. These strays were probably just transient animals seeking new habitats, but they never came in large enough numbers to establish a stable population here. Biologists think moose might have been expanding their ranges slowly southward and may have established themselves in Colorado on their own. CPW biologists, however, decided to give the moose a boost in the right direction.
In 1978 the DOW (now CPW) arranged for the first transplant of 12 moose to Colorado’s North Park region near Walden. These initial moose came from Utah, and, in 1979, another dozen from Wyoming were released in the same region, in the Illinois River drainage. This early population reproduced quickly, and some began to move into the Laramie River Valley. In 1987 a transplant of 12 moose from Wyoming helped establish a strong population in that valley as well.
Before long, North Park’s moose population was doing so well that some were moved to the upper Rio Grande drainage. Between 1991 and 1992 about 100 moose from Wyoming, Utah, and North Park were released in southern Colorado near Creede.
Since the transplants, our moose have thrived and expanded their range into good habitats. Colorado’s moose population now is approaching 1,000 animals statewide. They have grown so dramatically that limited hunting is offered in North Park, Middle Park and the Laramie River area. Not only do the moose provide recreational opportunities for sportspeople, they also have become a main attraction for all of those who enjoy watching wildlife. In recognition of this wildlife phenomena, the state legislature designated Walden as the "Moose Viewing Capital of Colorado" in 1995.
Unfortunately, having more moose around can present a challenge to motorists. Read how you can be a safe motorist in moose country.