The greatest threat to Colorado’s moose are people. In fact, 15 percent of the state's moose mortality each year comes from illegal kills. Because of their docile demeanor, moose have become common victims of poaching and accidental kills.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife has taken extensive precautions to prevent the illegal and accidental killing of moose by deer and elk hunters. Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this problem. Accidental moose killings can be prevented, however, if hunters take the time to accurately identify their targets.
CPW research shows Colorado residents kill as many moose by accident as nonresidents, and experienced hunters shoot as many moose as the inexperienced.
- If hunting deer or elk–be sure what you shoot is a deer or elk! (See the Moose vs. Elk video link in 'Helpful Links' to the left.) Hunters should look at several attributes (head, body and antler conformation, color) before pulling the trigger. Moose have a dark, black-brown body with an overhanging snout, a bell on the throat and whitish, gray legs. Elk have a red-brown body, chestnut brown neck, pale yellow rump and slender snout.
- Every hunter should be equipped with good optics, beyond rifle scopes. Hunters don't often expect to see moose in heavy timber or in open areas. When they do they are tempted to shoot hastily, thinking it is an elk and might get away. Because moose often do not run away from hunters, or are relatively slow in doing so, they end up being shot through carelessness of hunters.
If you shoot a moose accidentally, please do the ethical thing: report it to the nearest CPW office or officer. (The animal should be field dressed immediately to prevent spoilage of the meat.) CPW handles accidental kills that are reported immediately differently than when a hunter leaves the animal in the field and is apprehended by other means. (The fine for illegally killing a moose is $1,370.) If you observe someone, or know of someone, illegally shooting a moose, report it to wildlife authorities immediately. Provide as much information as possible about the circumstances, including the incident location and description or identity of the shooter.
Moose are a valuable asset to the state of Colorado. Credit for this wildlife success story goes to all the hunters who helped pay for wildlife conservation through their hunting and fishing license fees, as well as the Safari Club International and John B. Farley Foundation, which provided the funding to bring moose to Colorado for all of us to observe and enjoy.