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DENVER (KDVR) — Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers are working to save moose across Colorado that are accidentally and illegally being killed by hunters who mistake them for elk.

“Moose and elk. Sometimes they do look alike, but there really are some big differences that every hunter needs to be aware of,” shared CPW spokesperson, Jason Clay.

CPW said antlers on moose do not reach full development until 8 to 13 years old.

Moose and elk share the same habitats and are in the same areas, which adds to the confusion, for some.

“It’s necessary that the hunter, out in the field, can identify what that animal is first,” said Clay.

Clay also said hunters need to study the bodies and know the differences in characteristics.

Moose grow to be much larger than elk.

“Elk, their bodies are going to be reddish … lighter brown and their neck is going to be a darker chestnut brown. Whereas your moose, they’re going to appear black or dark brown,” shared Clay.

Clay says CPW recognizes accidents do happen

“Any time you self-admit mistakes in advance … you’ll have a lot more leniency on you,” said Clay.

But those who cover-up an illegal kill can face much more severe consequences.

Those wanting to hunt elk must receive a license from CPW first.