A story in last week’s Albuquerque Journal gave me a double take.
It was reported that a bull moose had somehow wandered into the town of Shiprock, NM, and was considered to be a potential threat to the local human population.
Okay, take a deep breath. A moose in Shiprock?
Now I don’t want to say anything bad about Shiprock. In fact, one of my best memories of New Mexico was based on a sign I saw on the road from Farmington to Shiprock in which a roadside stand which advertised the opportunity to buy Avon beauty products and live goats at the same location. Really. I wish I had snapped a picture of that sign. Shiprock is in the heart of Tony Hillerman country, with a beauty that has to be seen, absorbed and appreciated beyond somewhere with lush green landscapes.
Anyway, I never thought of this high desert community on the Navajo Nation as being a place where anyone would find a bull moose wandering around.
The police report speculated that the animal had managed to wander down the Animas River from Colorado and had become accustomed to humans who may have been offering it food or treats. They warned everyone to stay away from it.
To begin with, as much as I have wandered around southwestern Colorado over the years, it never even occurred to me that there might have been moose where I was driving or hiking. Perhaps several hundred years ago, moose were there, and maybe even in northern Ned Mexico. What I found was this from a Colorado wildlife website:
Click to access MooseReintroductionFactSheet.pdf
Although seen in the northern Colorado as late as 1850, they drifted north at some point and were no longer considered to be a native species. However, they were reintroduced to the northern part of the state in the 1978 and were brought into southwestern Colorado in the early 1990s.
Apparently, one of the offspring of these critters found its way to to Shiprock sometime late last year or early this year. A website says they can be accustomed to living in a more dry, high desert climate. Welcome to New Mexico, moose.
A former colleague of mine, who grew up in Wyoming and dealt with moose at her family’s mountain cabin told me that you really don’t want to mess with a moose. Weighing as much as 1500 pounds and being able to run almost 40 miles per hour, they can be pretty dangerous even if they have a mostly docile temperament.
My wife and I were able to see some at a safe distance when we visited Alaska several years ago and concluded they were impressive and intimidating creatures.
In our neck of the woods, game officials have introduced native African animals — ibex and oryx — to the Tularosa basin and they have thrived.
So are we ready for caribou in Cuba or Carlsbad?