On Nov. 4, Idaho Fish and Game received reports of a cow moose and calf strolling through a neighborhood in Coeur d’Alene. Since that time, additional sightings have been reported, and it appears the cow and her calf are spending time in the Atlas Road and Kathleen Avenue corridor.
Moose are big, furry and brown, and they often appear aloof by nature. Calves are cute and might be perceived as cuddly and innocent. But don’t be fooled, moose can be extremely unpredictable and dangerous when agitated or threatened.
“A moose cow with a calf is one of the most dangerous animals people can encounter in the Panhandle,” according to regional conservation officer Craig Walker.
Why moose venture into town and what you should do
During winter, it is not uncommon to see moose within city limits in the Idaho Panhandle and in other parts of the state. Moose move to lower elevations to avoid deep snowpack, take advantage of milder weather conditions and enjoy the easily life for a bit.
Plus, in town there is no shortage of tasty treats in the form of ornamental trees and shrubs; they are basically ice cream sundaes for moose. Give them space, and consider taking a photo from the safety of your car or through your home window. Never approach them, and never attempt to feed or touch them.
Feeding them might keep them in town longer, which increases the risk of traffic accidents, property damage and threats to public safety, and it may attract predators. This is true for feeding deer and elk as well.
“We’ve had reports of people feeding hay, carrots and even hand-feeding peanuts to moose,” said Walker. All of these foods, even the hay, are unnatural sources of winter nutrition and can hurt the animal’s digestive system.
Feeding starts with good intentions, but almost always does more harm than good.
A moose that has been fed may approach people, including children, expecting a handout. This is an extremely dangerous situation, as a food-conditioned moose may become aggressive if it does not receive the treat it is expecting.
What Fish and Game does
Fish and Game handles occurrences of moose in town on a case-by-case basis. It is always preferred that a moose moves out of town on its own.
However, a moose that acts aggressively toward people may have to be relocated or shot to protect public safety. Relocation is sometimes an option, but moving a moose to new habitat during winter puts the animal at high risk of malnutrition and being eaten by predators.
In addition, relocation requires the use of powerful drugs to sedate the animal, and it poses significant threats to both the animal and Fish and Game staff involved.
Help keep northern Idaho’s moose wild and healthy by allowing them space to move through town undisturbed. They are beautiful animals we have the luxury of enjoying in Idaho, just make sure to do so from a distance.
For more information regarding moose, or to report a potentially aggressive moose in town, please contact your local Fish and Game Regional office.
You can also follow the Panhandle Region Facebook page to get regular news and updates.