How to Nurture Nature during a Pandemic: 5 Ways to Support Your Wild Neighbors

Show gratitude for the flourishing wilderness around us; Respect and protect your outdoor community.

Show gratitude for the flourishing wilderness around us; Respect and protect your outdoor community.

Colorado Mountain Goat
Mountain goat on Mount Evans. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Colorado offers an outdoor oasis filled with mystical mountains, flourishing forests, lavish lakes, and peaceful plains. So it is no surprise-  Coloradans pride themselves on their ambitious outdoor lifestyle and weekend adventures. Natural beauty surrounds us and we love spending time in nature! 

As outdoor enthusiasts, we understand how essential outdoor recreation is to our community for the physical, mental and emotional nourishment. Since 1897, CPW has remained committed to perpetuating the wildlife resources of the state and providing enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities. 

As we all adjust our daily routines to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, we understand that your outdoor adventures have been impacted. However, we can still look to nature and our wildlife community for life lessons and fulfillment. Perhaps we take this extra time at home to reflect on how nature enriches our lives, and how we can nurture nature to give back and show appreciation. 

Below are five ways to nurture our state’s natural beauty and wildlife community during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

Young Wildlife is Thriving, Leave Them Be

fox kits
Fox kits, like all young wildlife, should be left alone. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Colorado has a robust wildlife ecosystem; a valuable reminder that the animal world around is bigger than just the human species. Our wild neighbors teach us how to co-exist and live in harmony with wildlife. We have a human responsibility to keep wild animals wild and leave young wildlife alone to support their natural growth in the wilderness. 

Many people wrongly believe they are “helping” young animals by picking them up,

taking them home and trying to feed them. People routinely orphan young wildlife by essentially kidnapping them and bringing them to CPW offices. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever to not feed or touch young wildlife; CPW resources that may normally be available are not during this outbreak, and handling animals may lead to them being rejected by their parents with no rehabilitation alternative.

How can you support young wildlife? Leave them alone! If you see an injured animal, call your local CPW office. Do not move the animal. CPW wildlife officers are trained to properly handle wildlife.

Bear-proof Your Home, Save a Bear’s Life

Colorado Black Bear
A black bear. Photo by CPW.

Most conflicts between people and bears can be traced to easily accessible human food,

garbage, birdseed or other attractants. A bear’s natural drive to eat can overcome its wariness of humans. However, bears that get too comfortable around people can destroy property or even become a threat to human safety.

As humans, we can take proactive steps to avoid conflicts with bears and live in harmony with bears. Being smart and responsible about how you store your trash and lock your property can save a bear’s life and keep your community safe.

To prevent a conflict with a bear: 

  • Do not feed bears or leave out food that attracts bears
  • Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster
  • Keep all bear-accessible windows and doors closed and locked (home, garage, vehicle) 

How can you support bears? Bearproof your home to prevent conflicts with bears. Conduct a home audit to be sure you are not attracting bears to your property.

Follow Updated Trail Safety Etiquette, Protect your Community

Please recreate responsibly. Video by Jerry Neal/CPW.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, outdoor recreation is considered essential for the health benefits, and continued outdoor recreation that complies with the CDC’s social distancing guidelines like hiking, fishing and hunting can be done in your local communities. 

We encourage Coloradans to take extra precautionary measures when recreating outdoors, such as:

  • Recreate locally and avoid travel to mountain communities
  • Spread out on trails, avoid crowds
  • Wear a non-medical cloth face mask, or something to cover your nose and mouth when passing people on trails
  • Avoid dangerous outdoor activities that can result in a hospital visit
  • Pack out your trash

How can you support other outdoor enthusiasts? Enjoy parks responsibly and follow trail safety etiquette guidelines.  

Learn to Appreciate Nature from Anywhere

Fishing at a local pond or lake is a great way to get kids in the outdoors. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

CPW asks all Coloradans to respect safer-at-home orders and stay close to your home and use local trails and parks for outdoor recreation. Limiting travel for recreation helps minimize the strain of visitors on small mountain communities and creates less burden for our search and rescue and emergency responders. 

Our Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) app tracks up-to-date information, including closures, related to trails, parks, open spaces, visitor centers and campgrounds. The app allows you to plan your outdoor activities before you go to ensure additional safety. 

How can you support your neighbors? Avoid creating large crowds at popular local trails. If an outdoor area appears crowded, adjust your plans and find another trail or activity. 

Be Kind in Nature

A group of kayakers
A group of kayaks share the water.

We understand it is frustrating during a time of change to adjust to new practices. COVID-19 affects all of us, so we must work together to limit the spread of the virus. 

Customer, volunteer and employee safety is our top priority, and we take your health and well-being seriously. We are committed to providing our regular services at the highest level possible while also ensuring that everyone is safe.

How can you support parks and wildlife rangers? Do your part to be kind, wave hello, and respect your fellow humans when out on a trail. Follow trail safety etiquette and avoid overcrowding state parks.

Written by Bridget Kochel. Bridget is a public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife .

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