Moose on the loose: Officials warn Utahns of wildlife sightings

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SPRINGVILLE, Utah (ABC4) – In Utah County on Thursday morning, a pair of moose were on the loose in a residential area.

Responding to a call and working with law enforcement, officials from Springville, Mapleton, and the county, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources personnel were able to humanely and safely sedate a full-grown moose and a calf to transport them back to a “healthy moose habitat.”

Due to the extreme drought conditions that are likely impacting their food source, Utah DWR spokesperson Faith Jolley says it was probable that the moose were looking for something to eat and wandered into the backyard of a local human.

“Especially in a drought year, our biologists say there could be an increase in several different wildlife species coming down into towns and cities, looking for food and water,” Jolley tells ABC4.com.

Among the different species that could creep their way into human territory are deer, bears, and cougars, in addition to moose, Jolley says.

While moose and deer may not seem especially concerning, having predatory animals roaming around a residential neighborhood looking for a bite to eat and a drink to wash it down could be alarming to many Utahns, especially those who live in the foothill areas.

Jolley assures residents, however, that attacks by cougars are “very, very, very rare,” and that bear-related incidents are also “quite rare,” and practically non-existent in the winter while they are hibernating.

That doesn’t mean that precautions and safety measures shouldn’t be applied if such an animal is spotted. In general, the idea is to stay away and notify trained experts.

“We recommend with all wildlife, whether it’s a predator or not, just give it its distance. Don’t try to approach it, don’t try to get too close,” Jolley advises. “And if the animal looks sick or injured, or if there is that safety concern aspect, we always recommend people contact our nearest office and we can deploy biologists to help relocate those animals kind of like we did in Springville.”

For the most part, Jolley says that homes in the foothill areas near the mountains typically see the lion’s share of displaced wildlife. There are, however, times when an animal has found its way deep into an urban area. Jolley recalls an instance in 2019 when a bear ended up on Center Street in Orem.

“It definitely does happen, but I would say it’s far more common to see them up in those foothill areas,” she states.

Should a person encounter an animal in a place they shouldn’t be or to be prepared beforehand, Jolley recommends a quick visit to Wild Aware Utah, an online resource with tips for dealing with wildlife, broken down by species and situation.

“It’s super convenient so people know exactly what to expect and what to do,” she says of the site. “If there’s a bat in their house or they’re camping and there’s a bear, you know, something like that.”

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