Rare sighting: Moose on the loose in the Black Hills


SPEARFISH – Every once in a blue moon an animal not normally encountered in the Black Hills is spotted. A bear here, a wolf there. Last weekend it was a moose spotted in the Northern Hills.

Jake Kiley and his family and friends were snowmobiling down from the Cement Ridge Lookout area along the trail near the intersection of Schoolhouse Gulch Road. In the distance they spotted a large, tall, dark animal moving through the aspens.

“It was in the distance and we said, ‘there is no way that was a moose.’ We kept going and my brother was able to snap a pic,” Kiley said.

The cow moose was about 200 feet away and allowed only a quick cell phone photo.

Occasionally, officials with the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks receive reports of moose sightings. Most recently, they received a report in the summer of 2018.

“We’ve had reports of a cow off and on for the last two years,” Trenton Haffley, regional terrestrial resources supervisor with the GF&P wrote in an email to the Pioneer. “No way to confirm it’s the same cow but it could be.”

The closest moose populations are in the Big Horns mountains in Wyoming and the Turtle Mountains in North Dakota.

“We do occasionally get reports of moose moving through eastern South Dakota  as well,” he said.

Reports around the state include both cows and bulls of varying ages.

“It’s difficult to tell why a moose would move here, and I hate to speculate without a necropsy but often a moose that makes it to SD is suffering from a parasite that affects their brain,” Haffley wrote. “It’s an unusual parasitic cycle in that it involves white-tailed deer and snails. 

“If this is indeed the same cow moose in the Black Hills, it is possible she dispersed from her natal range and is looking to set up shop somewhere new.”

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