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OGDEN — Utah wildlife biologists say the annual mating season likely factored in a young bull moose being struck and killed near Weber State University Wednesday night.
Police responded to a report of a crash on Harrison Boulevard near 40th Street shortly before 8:30 p.m., according to Ogden police dispatch. No injuries were reported for the driver who hit the animal.
Mark Hadley, a spokesman for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said the bull moose was about 18 to 24 months old and that conservation officers were tracking the animal when it bolted onto Harrison Boulevard and was hit.
Another photo of last night's majestic visitor.— Weber State University (@WeberStateU) September 23, 2021
Police and wildlife officials did their best to herd the moose had toward the mountains after he moved on from our pond.
Sadly, the moose was struck by a car on Harrison Boulevard and killed. pic.twitter.com/5vdoAqCzKD
Weber State University posted a photo on social media of the bull moose in a pond near a fountain on campus Wednesday evening. Hadley said the DWR received a report of a moose in that area earlier in the day but state conservation officers were unable to locate it. Conservation officers later located the moose in the pond but couldn't tranquilize it and relocate it back into the mountains at that time because the moose would have drowned in the pond.
"We kept an eye on it, hoping the moose — when it decided to leave the pond — would go east up into the foothills where it came from, but unfortunately the moose decided to get out of the pond and head west," he said. "Harrison Boulevard is not that far from that duck pond is and, unfortunately, it ran out and was hit by a car."
The meat of the animal was salvaged and given to a family that wanted it, DWR officials added.
So why exactly was a moose in the valley to begin with? Hadley explained that the moose likely came down from higher elevations in the Wasatch Mountains near the campus during the moose mating season known as the rut, which he said is "just starting." When it happens, there's an uptick in moose sightings in the foothills and in neighborhoods closer to the mountains.
"What happens is the big, aggressive bull moose up in the mountains — they're looking for cows to breed — and so they kick the younger bulls away," he said. "They get them away from the cows, they kick them off the mountain, and so this is one of the times of the year that we get a lot bull moose down in lower elevation areas."
The rut traditionally continues through most of October, meaning there's a higher likelihood for moose sightings around the Wasatch Front in the coming weeks. Hadley said the period can be a bit concerning because it means moose end up closer to people — and cars.
It creates possible safety risks since moose are large, wild creatures with the ability to outrun humans.
"We're really encouraging people to make sure they give moose plenty of space. That's any time of the year but we're going to have more and more people encountering them right now," he said. "It's really important that people understand these are aggressive animals and you need to give them some space."
The division, as well as Utah State University-Extension and Hogle Zoo, have a program called Wild Aware Utah that aims to educate Utahns on how to encounter various wild animals while outdoors. When coming across a moose, they advise people to:
- Give the moose a lot of space and watch its behavior.
- Back off if its hair is standing up on its neck, it is licking its snout or its ears are back, which are all signs of aggression.
- Stay calm and don't run away. Make your presence known by talking as you slowly back off in the direction you came.
- Hide behind something solid, such as a tree, if a moose charges you or chases you.
- Curl into a ball and protect your head and lie still if it knocks you down. Stay in that position until it retreats.
More tips and information about moose encounters can be found here.