Moose loose, but not fair game

I noticed your article in September's Oregon Outdoors section about the moose herd growing in Eastern Oregon. Is there a specific number of animals identified by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife? Enough to start allowing hunting of them?

— Steve, by email

Estimated at 60 animals, Oregon's moose herd is nowhere close to being large enough to get on the radar screen for possible hunting opportunities anytime soon, Steve.

"We have no target number of moose before we'd consider a season," says Ron Anglin, the ODFW's Wildlife Division administrator. "We don't see them growing exponentially like we'd expect them to do to become healthy enough to sustain hunting pressure."

So expect Oregon's largest big-game animal to stay out of hunters' cross-hairs for quite some time.

The moose moved into Oregon from southeast Washington about a decade ago, and the first one was captured and collared in 2009, giving biologists a chance to track these mega-critters.

The Oregon herd is found in parts of the Umatilla and Wallowa-Whitman national forests.

Moose have been reported from time to time in this corner of Oregon. Biologists say the first recorded sighting was along the Imnaha River in 1960.

They are the Shira's subspecies of moose, with the females weighing up to 800 pounds and the males up to 1,000.

Alaska and Yukon moose are the largest subspecies in North America, weighing about 1,500 pounds.

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