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Bull moose dies at Keystone ski area after getting tangled in cords

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working with resorts on ways to better protect wildlife
A bull moose was killed at Keystone ski area after getting tangled in electrical cords for snowmaking equipment. An anonymous source emailed photos and video of the moose being dragged down the mountain behind a truck. (Provided to The Colorado Sun)

A bull moose died last week after it became entangled in electrical cords connected to snowmaking equipment at Keystone ski area.

Ski area workers found the moose wrapped in the wires. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials said the animal died from “capture myopathy,” which is defined by stress and physical exertion resulting from restraint. Resort workers dragged the dead moose down the mountain behind a truck. An unnamed source captured the removal on video that was sent to The Colorado Sun.

CPW officers investigated the death of the animal after the resort reported the incident. CPW spokesman John Livingston called the death “a unique, highly rare situation that nobody I have spoken with inside CPW has ever seen happen before.”

Livingston said Summit County wildlife managers at the agency do not recall anything similar at any of the county’s four ski areas.

The agency is working with Keystone managers on strategies to prevent another animal death. It’s likely the resort will begin covering its snowmaking machines and electrical cords. The electrical wires supporting snowmaking machines are thicker and larger than typical extension cords.

“As a moose gets wrapped up in something like that, it will pull and thrust around harder and harder to try to break free and tangle themselves even more,” Livingston said, noting that the meat from the animal was donated to a local nonprofit.

A Vail Resorts spokeswoman said resort workers have never encountered an animal tangled in snowmaking equipment. CPW said it is working with the company on any operational adjustments to better protect wildlife.

“This was a sad and rare accident. Even still, we are looking at more we can do in the future to prevent rare events like this from happening at all,” said Lindsay Hogan with Vail Resorts in an emailed statement. “We notified Colorado Parks and Wildlife immediately when the moose was discovered and removed the moose under their guidance and direction.”

The company last month ran afoul of the Forest Service at Keystone when lift installation work stretched beyond a permitted boundary. Keystone was forced to delay the opening of a new chairlift in its Bergman Bowl by a year as it works to repair the damage from the illegal temporary road the company built above treeline at the ski area.

CPW said this is the time of year that wildlife officers typically see more issues with wildlife getting caught in netting, decorative lights, hammocks and fencing in populated areas. Locals in Park City, Utah, last week captured video of sheriff’s deputies cutting free a bull moose tangled in a backyard hammock. CPW officers last week in Estes Park tranquilized a bull elk to cut fencing from the animal’s antlers.

“As this incident shows, it is important for everyone in our mountain communities to be vigilant when it comes to looking for ways to be a good neighbor to wildlife,” Livingston said.

The Colorado Sun is a reader-supported, nonpartisan news organization dedicated to covering Colorado issues. To learn more, go to coloradosun.com.

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