DEADWOOD | There’s a moose on the loose in them ‘thar hills.
The South Dakota Game, Fish & Parks Department confirmed Thursday that its staff has been monitoring relatively rare but repeated reports of a cow moose moving in a northerly direction through the central and northern Black Hills.
The moose was first spotted by the GF&P in March near Crazy Horse Memorial as wildlife officials conducted an aerial survey for elk, according to Regional Wildlife Manager Trenton Haffley. Since then, reports of a moose sighted near Hill City and Deerfield Reservoir, and later on Rochford Road south of Lead, have been made to the agency, he said.
“It’s somewhat rare, but it’s not overly alarming and nothing we are concerned about,” Haffley said Thursday from his Rapid City office. “If she’s been hanging around out there for a few months, people probably just quit calling us.”
Carol and Ralph Reausaw, who live in Spearfish Canyon, spotted the moose in October off Rochford Road near the Lead Country Club and quickly reported it to the GF&P.
“It was just after dark and we were driving on this gravel road and it walked right across the road in front of us,” Carol Reausaw said Friday from Arizona. “It was such a shock. We said, 'It’s a deer, it’s an elk — no it’s a moose.’”
The Reausaws watched as the animal, the first moose they had ever seen in the Black Hills, scurried through the ditch and vanished into the trees.
Though rare, Haffley noted moose have been spotted in the Black Hills several times in recent years. Moose are far more common in Canada or the northern woods of Minnesota than in the Dakotas.
In July 2015, another misplaced moose was spotted and photographed near Timber Lake in northcentral South Dakota, according to Associated Press reports. In October 2009, a young bull moose that had earlier been spotted browsing in Custer State Park and swimming in Pactola Reservoir was killed by a poacher.
In September 2003, GF&P conservation officers shot and killed a moose in the front yard of a home in the 3600 block of West Main Street in Rapid City. The agency later said the animal had posed a danger to the public.
On Thursday, Haffley predicted that the latest moose in the area eventually would wander off to a more friendly environment.
“We don’t feel the habitat is terribly suited to moose in the Black Hills,” the wildlife official said. “Eventually they’ll realize this isn’t the place for them and move on.”
Rumors had also surfaced recently of a bull moose being seen several times in the area near Wall east of Rapid City, though that was not confirmed.