U.S. Forest Service and state biologists may introduce moose to the Boulder Mountain area of Dixie National Forest, says the forest supervisor.
Agency officials discussed the proposal with representatives of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, which is in charge of all wildlife in the state.Interested Utahns are invited to comment on the idea to assist in an environmental assessment to be released soon.
Forest Supervisor Hugh Thompson said possible places where the moose would be released might be a belt of aspen trees and small lakes below the rim of the lofty area called Boulder High Top. Potentially suitable areas are on the Escalante and Teasdale ranger districts.
"Moose in Utah have proven to be very adaptable to a variety of habitats and are a wide-ranging species," Thompson said. That means they might not remain in the area where they are freed.
"Research has proven that competition for forage between moose, mule deer, elk, domestic cattle and sheep will be minimal," he said, because these species either don't eat the same kinds of plants or tend to stay in different areas.
"Also, moose are relatively solitary animals. It is uncommon to see more than a cow and calf together, and extremely rare to see more than six moose in a group."
A herd of these giant members of the deer family has been established in Joe's Valley in Manti-LaSal National Forest. Last winter, 29 moose were transplanted to Fishlake National Forest, and some of them were sighted in the Boulder Mountain area.
Anyone wishing to comment on the proposal, or to ask questions about it, can write to Thompson at Dixie National Forest, P.O. Box 580, Cedar City, Utah, 84720. In order to be included in the environmental assessment, comments must be received by Nov. 30.