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Moose on the loose in Hamilton: Biologist urges caution

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Hamilton moose

A cow moose and its yearling calf made some very public appearances earlier this week in Hamilton. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Rebecca Mowry urged people to keep their distance should the pair show up again in town.

A cow and calf moose have created a bit of stir in Hamilton recently after showing up at a baseball game, camping out in a person’s yard and settling in alongside a popular walking trail.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Rebecca Mowry wants folks to remember that moose can be aggressive.

“It would be really cool if we could all live together with moose here in town,” Mowry said. “For that to happen, people need to steer clear and stay away from them. Dogs need to be kept on a leash and not allowed to run loose.”

The alternative isn’t something that anyone wants.

“If a moose starts being aggressive toward people, we won’t have any choice than to lethally remove them,” Mowry said. “I don’t think anyone wants that. I don’t want that. I know the game wardens don’t want that.”

On Easter Sunday, Mowry received a call that a moose and yearling had settled in right next to the paved walking path at Hamilton’s River Park. Mowry asked the Hamilton Police to push them back away from the trail, which they did.

The cow was spotted Monday resting in the shade at a residence on Main and 8th streets.

“When I got there, she seemed to be fine,” Mowry said. “She was just hanging out in the shade.”

An hour later, Mowry received a call the yearling had shown up at the baseball field between the Bitterroot College and River Park. By the time she arrived, it had disappeared.

“I heard later the calf came back and was starting to get aggressive with people as they tried to get it off the baseball field,” she said. “Later that day, the two moose were together again at Eighth and Main.”

Mowry received reports that teenagers were riding their bikes up to the cow moose and taking selfies, which makes her nervous.

“Generally, I think moose will run away if they have that option,” she said. “But bulls in rut and a cow with a calf are more likely to be more aggressive. I think this cow is probably pregnant, which means it will kick the yearling off sometime this spring. We may end up with another moose in town.”

It’s not unusual for moose to travel through Hamilton. One of Mowry’s first calls when she arrived in the Bitterroot in 2014 was to address a moose hanging out around day care center on Main Street.

“Moose have been here for years,” she said. “We’ve been lucky that nothing bad has ever happened.”

For the most part, Mowry thinks that moose tend to move through Hamilton at night.

“I’ve had them in my yard at night before,” she said. “A friend of mine was driving in town at 2 a.m. and saw a moose running right down Main Street. That’s a different issue than during the daytime hours when people are out walking their dogs and kids are getting out of school.”

In Anchorage, Mowry said people have learned to live with an urban moose population.

“In Anchorage, they have moose that live right in town,” she said. “They have learned how to live with them without ticking them off. I think we can do that here, too, as long as people will just give them some space.”


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