Moosed up

Moosed up

Oh humanity, you’re really testing us with this one.

In recent years, moose have returned to Silverton seemingly in full force, especially in the stretch northwest of town along U.S. Highway 550 toward Red Mountain Pass. In fact, moose are so common in that area that the Colorado Department of Transportation installed a moose crossing sign earlier this spring at mile point 71.

And that’s not all. Anticipating people would covet the moose sign on their wall, CDOT took additional measures when this sign was installed, said spokeswoman Lisa Schwantes. Namely, the bolts were welded on as an extra effort to secure and prevent anyone from stealing the sign.

“The extra measure did not deter thieves from stealing this sign,” Schwantes said. “Unfortunately, theft of road signs is a chronic problem for CDOT.”

Well, a dead moose, an adult female, was found Sunday morning by local photographer Wesley Berg, along this very stretch of highway. Berg said that after talking to other Silverton residents, it is believed the sign was stolen Saturday night.

Now, we’re not saying that had the sign been in place, that would have prevented the moose from getting hit. Heck, just as chronic a problem for people is speeding in the mountains, despite all the obvious risks and hazards. But, a sign is at least one measure to prevent roadkill.

“It just pissed me off that some souvenir hunters took it,” Berg said. “There was a reason it was up there.”

Yep. In this same area, two young moose born late spring 2021 were orphaned after their mother was hit and killed by a car. Then, the next year, one of the two young moose was found dead west of Silverton near Mineral Creek. 

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman John Livingston said it is critical for motorists to slow down through this stretch near Mineral Creek and to watch for moose crossing the road. “Their dark color makes dawn, dusk and nighttime driving additionally hazardous, and we can’t stress enough how important it is for people to keep their eyes on the road and its shoulders,” he said. 

CDOT’s Schwantes said road signs can cost anywhere from $300 to $500 to create and install, and it is not known when this sign will be replaced.

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