Moose found meandering in meadow near Enterprise

This big cow moose was spotted last Friday in a meadow on Boise Cascade property just off Highway 3 north of Enterprise. Moose are rare, though reports of their presence are increasing in Wallowa County. Photo by Kim Lamb

The little booklets that Boise Cascade hands out at the entrance to his self-guided nature tour 13 miles north of Enterprise inform visitors that there is a good chance they will encounter deer and elk along the way.

It makes no mention, however, of the possibility of meeting face-to-face with an eight-foot-tall moose.

The authors of the guidebook may need to rewrite the tour guide in the wake of a discovery last week - a large female moose that was spotted by area residents grazing contentedly in a meadow amid the aspens just off Highway 3.

The sighting, first reported by some deer hunters who had been scouting the area, created a stir once word got around in town.

Although moose have been seen in Wallowa County before, their presence is considered very unusual. They are so rare in Oregon that there is no moose hunting season, although they are listed as a big game animal and are protected by state wildlife laws.

"We're getting more and more of them coming in all the time," said Vic Coggins, district biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). In addition to the cow moose reported out north, Coggins has received reports of another moose in the upper Imnaha area. In the past moose have been reported near Temperance Creek in Hells Canyon, Maxville north of Wallowa, the Minam Canyon, and Troy.

"One has been hanging out in the Walla Walla drainage for years, and I suspect there are some in the Wenaha," said Coggins.

The latest sighting on Boise Cascade land is significant because it puts moose closer to a northeast Oregon population center than any previous report.

Coggins believes the moose are crossing the Snake River from Washington and Idaho into Oregon. They are known to inhabit areas around Idaho's Craig Mountain and the Seven Devils range just across the river.

"I've always wondered why we don't have moose in Wallowa County when they have them right across the border in Idaho," said Cassandra Botts, manager of Boise Cascade's Joseph office. "Maybe now we do. "Though there is no hunting season for moose, anybody who shoots one "would be in deep trouble," according to Coggins. There is no excuse for mistaking a moose for an elk because moose are much bigger and are black, rather than tan. Moose are the largest member of the deer family, and an adult female can weigh as much as 1,300 pounds. By comparison, the largest female Rocky Mountain elk rarely gets larger than 500 pounds.

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