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More "Moose on the Loose" in Washington

PHOTO: Much larger than lawn gnomes, these majestic visitors to a Spokane home prompted residents to call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo credit: Candace Bennett, WDFW.
PHOTO: Much larger than lawn gnomes, these majestic visitors to a Spokane home prompted residents to call the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo credit: Candace Bennett, WDFW.
April 28, 2015

SPOKANE, Wash. - "Moose on the Loose" is the aptly-named title of some free presentations in the Spokane area in the next month, starting tonight.

It isn't the only area of Washington where people have to learn to coexist with moose, but the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Spokane Valley office regularly gets calls from folks with a giant ungulate in their yard.

Don't feed them, said Candace Bennett, a WDFW wildlife conflict specialist. Don't turn your dog loose to scare them off, she said, and be aware of the signs that a docile moose is about to become agitated.

"We can't stress enough that they're such beautiful animals, but they can be very dangerous," she said. "If you're banging pots and making noise and they turn and face you - their ears go down, the hair on their shoulders goes up, you know, any type of aggressive behavior - they can be dangerous."

Bennett said moose are extremely sensitive to heat, so as the weather warms they'll gravitate toward the shade trees and sprinkler systems of suburban yards. She said it's smart to call Fish and Wildlife if you see the same moose around for more than a day. It could mean they're getting too comfortable in an area and might need to be relocated to stay safe.

Bennett said the department is undertaking a study to find out why, unlike other areas, more moose seem to be moving into parts of Washington, from the northeast to the Blue Mountains.

"Several other locations are actually seeing a decline of moose, anywhere from a 20 to 75 percent decline," she said. "It could be a parasite; it could be climate change. But we're one of the few locations where we're seeing an expansion of the population, we think."

If a moose appears to be white in color, she said, it usually means it's been infested with ticks and has scratched off its hair. Tick infestations even can be fatal for moose.

The first "Moose on the Loose" presentation is at 6:30 p.m. today at South Hill Library, 3324 S. Perry St., Spokane. Others will be held at 6:30 p.m. May 11 at North Spokane Library, 44 E. Hawthorne Road., Spokane; and at 6 p.m. May 20 at the WDFW Eastern Region office, 2315 N. Division St., Spokane Valley.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA