As trees and flowers begin to bloom, Colorado’s wildlife is experiencing new life and growth as well. Bears are coming out of their winter dens to find food, and the next generation of young wildlife is being born.
As wildlife becomes more visible in backyards, open spaces and on trails, Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourages people not to disturb young wildlife. Some of the young wildlife you may see include deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, rabbits, foxes and birds.
People that feed, touch or remove wildlife from their natural environment actually cause them harm and are not helping the young animals. The best practice is to leave young wildlife alone, untouched in their natural habitat so they can grow and thrive in the wild.
How can humans help young wildlife?
- Do not approach, touch or feed wild animals.
- Enjoy wildlife from a safe distance.
- Keep your dog on a leash on trails.
- If you find a wild animal that appears sick or injured, leave it alone. Call your local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and talk to a trained wildlife officer for guidance.
Every spring CPW and local parks receive an increase of office visits and calls from people that report they “rescued” young wildlife. Although reports are made with good intentions, people routinely orphan young wildlife by essentially kidnapping them from the wild.
“You may encounter a baby animal that seems alone or “abandoned.” Usually the parent is nearby but out of sight, and listening for any distress from its baby. This is normal for wildlife,” said CPW Wildlife Biologist April Estep. “Please resist the urge to pick up the baby. Moving the baby can have negative consequences and cause undue stress to the baby and the mother. It is important to remember that some birds leave the nest before they can fly. This is their natural progression as they grow. ”
CPW asks people to respect wildlife by giving them space, keeping dogs leashed to avoid harassing young wildlife and by not feeding wild animals on trails or on decks.
“Wild animals can become sick or die if they are fed by people. An unnatural food may make them sick, and if they become too accustomed to people they can become dangerous and may even need to be euthanized,” said Karen Fox, CPW wildlife pathologist. “Last year, we saw an increase in reports of people feeding animals around their homes and the animals becoming sick or aggressive. We want to remind people that under Colorado law, feeding wildlife is illegal because it puts an animal’s health and safety at risk.”
For more information, read the online resources below:
Written by Bridget O’Rourke Kochel. Bridget is a public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.