It was the last day of the Questa Farmers Market for the season. On the afternoon of Sunday Oct. 2, around 3 pm, Tyler Smith and I were driving home to Sunshine Valley. We were heading north on Highway 522, just south of Tres Ritos Ranch and Tyler glanced to the east at a spot close to tree-line where he had often seen elk herds in the past.
Tyler got excited and abruptly pulled off to the side of the highway and stopped the van. We jumped out and ran to the fence that separated the highway from the private land to the east. Tyler at first presumed that the animal he spotted was a cow, then an elk, and upon third glance he realized that it was a bull moose. REALLY. We were sure it was a moose; it had large antlers and also a distinctive skin hanging below its chin which is called a dewlap or bell. I took out my phone and took photos and filmed the moose as it walked south along the treeline. The photos we took were not the best quality; I was maybe a quarter mile away from the moose, too far to get a good photo but close enough to see that it was indeed a moose.
I posted my video on my personal Facebook page and it quickly went viral. I was alarmed that it was shared on an elk hunting page with chatter about hunting it down. I contacted the owner of the Facebook page and he agreed to remove the post.
The following morning, the moose was spotted again farther south in Questa by Lexy Gurule and Kevin Montoya. Lexy captured the moose on video, jumping over the neighborhood fences and heading east, back into the mountains. Kevin told his story on KRQE News. He was glad they had the moose on video, otherwise no one would have believed them. To see the news clip with information from New Mexico Dept. of Game and Fish see the KRQE News story at: https://us06web.zoom.us/postattendee?mn=EvHbIPMgnWHlx91X-S9UxdoiV8xuDpSvlUHX.edYG3el6k9CDanjY&id=22
In 2018 there was a sighting of a bull moose in Costilla that made television network news. It is possible that this moose seen recently in Questa could be the same moose reported back then, as the antlers appear to have grown an appropriate amount.
As far as I know there have been no more recent moose sightings in the Questa area.
After I posted my video on Facebook, I got an overwhelming response. Yehuda Maayan shared on Facebook that “they reintroduced a few hundred moose into southern Colorado in the ’90s at the headwaters of the Rio Grande. I’m assuming they sometimes migrate along the river. Taos weather has been super wet summer with cold winter (we got to -27 degrees this past winter) so maybe the moose habitat is moving.”
Many people shared their local moose stories with me on Facebook. Moose symbolizes strength and power, and remind us to find courage in our lives. I heard from locals that this same moose had been seen a few times in the past four years on the Tres Ritos Ranch in Cerro. One person from Cerro said on Facebook that the moose was seen with a female moose. I sincerely hope so. Thinking of a lone moose wandering for years in the mountains of New Mexico makes me sad. I like to think that he will find his tribe.