A female moose that is spending winter in the wooded area between Blackcomb Way and Fitzsimmons Creek, north of Lorimer Road, is attracting quite a bit of attention — and B.C. Conservation Officer Tim Schumacher is concerned that it's not in the moose's best interest.
"One concern we do have is people with unleashed dogs, and what happens when the dog becomes aware of the moose," said Schumacher. "It's already happened once this season. A lady and her dog were charged by the moose because the dog was off-leash... (the dog) was chasing the moose and the moose was attempting to defend itself — and of course she (the dog owner) was right by the dog when the moose charged.
"Wild animals can be unpredictable, and the best thing when you're near a wild animal is to give it space and not try to get close to it."
Schumacher said that the fine for allowing your dog to chase wildlife is $345 under the Wildlife Act.
As well as unleashed dogs, the moose has become something of an attraction for locals. People are parking along Blackcomb Way when the moose is visible, where no parking is allowed. Schumacher has asked people not to stop in the area, and issued one ticket last week for $109 for failing to park off the roadway.
To protect spectators and moose, Schumacher has also used bear bangers to scare the moose back into the woods.
Schumacher said it's not uncommon to get moose reports in Whistler, and reports do come every few years. Mainly the moose are concentrated to the north of Whistler with anywhere from 30 to 80 animals in the Pemberton area depending on the season and fluctuations in the wolf population.
That said, Schumacher said the Whistler moose is in good condition, and has found suitable habitat and food in the wetland to last the winter season. There is no indication that the moose is pregnant, as one local rumour suggests, or that a wolf is stalking the animal. The office hasn't received any reports of predator sightings or seen anything beyond the usual coyotes.
So far the moose hasn't been seen on the road, but people driving through that area should be cautious as well. If the moose is seen moving south or close to the village, Schumacher said the best thing to do would be to call the B.C. Conservation Officer Service's 24-hour line at 1-877-952-7277 to avoid conflicts.