RENO — A critter rarely seen in Nevada’s high desert is drawing looks of disbelief from workers in one of the world’s richest gold mining areas.
A bull moose has been sighted around Barrick Gold Corp. and Newmont Mining Corp. mines near Carlin, about 75 miles south of Idaho where it’s believed to have originated.
The 1- to 2-year-old animal hanging out about 15 miles north of Carlin is among four moose that have been spotted in northeastern Nevada over the last month, said Joe Doucette, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife. Carlin is located along Interstate 80 about 270 miles east of Reno and 130 miles west of the Utah line.
Two of the moose were seen together in Jarbidge near the Idaho border, but Doucette was unsure where the other moose was viewed.
“There seems to be more of a frequency of moose sightings in Northern Nevada in the last four years than before,” he told The Associated Press. “But we think it’s a coincidence four different moose have been sighted in northeastern Nevada this year.”
Barrick and Newmont employees are aware of the bull moose and have shared photos of it, the Elko Daily Free Press reported.
“He is actually near (a mine) pit in several of the pictures,” Newmont spokesman Matt Murray told the newspaper. “You can actually see the ... waste dumps in the background.”
Most moose that wander into Nevada are young bulls from Idaho in search of mates, according to experts. Moose tend to stay in one area during the summer but take off in search of cows during the breeding season.
In 2009, a yearling bull moose created a stir when it ambled through an RV park in Wells, about 65 miles south of Idaho. It was last seen about 10 miles south of Wells, wildlife officials said, and was the first member of its species known to have crossed south of I-80 in Nevada.
Doucette said while that animal probably moved on in search of better habitat, experts don’t think it’s the one that has recently been seen near Carlin.
Experts think the latter moose will winter in Nevada because of the availability of water and food sources such as willow and alder along Maggie Creek near Carlin, Doucette said.
In the 1990s, a moose lived in the high desert between Carlin and Tuscarora for three years.
That animal attacked a federal Bureau of Land Management official and sent him to the hospital, prompting a warning to the public to stay away from moose.
“There seems to be more of a frequency of moose sightings in Northern Nevada in the last four years than before.”
— Joe Doucette
Nevada Department of Wildlife