WILDLIFE -- After reading my blog about the moose poaching case on Beacon Hill, a woman who lived in this area from the 50s through the 70s wrote to say she never knew there were moose around Spokane.
It's not she wasn't observant. Moose are relative newcomers to the region, showing up roughly with the first big waves of Californians.
Washington's moose population has been slowly growing since the first confirmed moose sighting was made in Pend Oreille County in the early '50's. Wildlife research pegged about 60 moose in the northeast corner of the state in the early '70s.
The first moose hunting season was authorized in 1977 with just three permits, all for the northeast portion of Pend Oreille County.
This year, 150 moose hunting permits are being offered for a moose population estimated at more than 1,000 -- although that estimate appears to have been made before the wolves gained a foothold in northeastern Washington in recent years.
Since the 90s, moose have spread into Stevens and Spokane counties and beyond, where they've been showing up in towns, in school yards, in swimming pools on a hot day. A few people have been charged by moose. Some have had the misfortune of colliding with moose on area roads. Heck, one calf fell through a window into the basement bedroom of a home in north Spokane.
They've only been common for a couple of decades, but nowadays everybody in this area has a moose story.