December 21, 2011
It’s extremely rewarding to view wildlife in their natural habitat. This is arguably one of the most valued resources that Open Space provides for the residents of Ken-Caryl Ranch. However, living in such proximity to wildlife can be dangerous and challenging. The Open Space Department provides a number of services to help residents deal with wildlife-related problems at their homes. Other local and state agencies are also available to help with wildlife related problems.
Wildlife experts agree that the best way to avoid conflict and damage caused by wildlife is to think of your property as wildlife habitat. All wildlife needs food, water, shelter and space to survive which all properties have to some degree. Modifications to your landscaping or re-thinking the way you use your property can go a long way in avoiding conflict with wildlife. There are many good sources of information on the internet about specific measures you can utilize when modifying habitat on your property. The Rangers are also available to answer your phone calls and can provide information better tailored to our area.
Sometimes problems caused by wildlife are out of your control. If a neighbor is intentionally feeding wildlife it will cause problems with all neighboring properties. There are state wildlife statutes that prohibit this activity along with the illegal taking of wildlife. The Rangers work with law enforcement agencies such as the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) to educate individuals about the consequences of their actions or if necessary enforce laws by issuing fines or summonses.
The Rangers also work with CDOW and local law enforcement in addressing sick or injured wildlife. Deer are often injured by collisions with motor vehicles. Sometimes these collisions result in fatal injuries. The Rangers can assist authorizing agencies in euthanizing fatally injured deer (Note: a deer must not be able to get up and move around at all for it to be safely euthanized). Canine distemper and parvovirus flare up from time to time in the raccoon population. A sick raccoon will move slowly and seem unaware of adjacent activity. Jefferson County Animal Control will remove sick raccoons from your property. If you are unsure of the condition of an animal you can call the Rangers and ask them to make an assessment and explain options for dealing with a sick animal.
If a deer dies on your property, you can call the Rangers and they will remove the carcass (Note: this is the only animal carcass that the Rangers will remove. For wildlife carcasses up to 100 lbs. contact Jefferson County Animal Control). In some cases, licensed rehabilitators will take injured animals and nurse them back to health and release them back into the wild. Rangers can help residents connect with these organizations and at times will help transport (especially birds of prey) to the appropriate facility.
One of the most common wildlife related calls the Rangers receive is regarding snakes, especially rattlesnakes. As stated above, the Rangers can advise residents on avoiding snakes and discouraging them from your property. In years past, the Rangers would remove rattlesnakes from private property and relocate the animals to areas in Open Space. However, concerns about Ranger and public safety in the capturing and releasing of rattlesnakes and the harmful effects of relocation to the snakes have resulted in the suspension of this program. Some private wildlife/pest control contractors can help with trapping snakes or homeowners can build or buy traps for their own use.
While the Rangers’ assistance on wildlife related problems may seem limited, keep in mind that Open Space Department resources (consisting of four full-time Rangers) are spread very thin. The Rangers cover many different tasks in the overall management of our Open Space including noxious weed control, rules enforcement, trail maintenance and forestry operations, to name a few primary areas of responsibility. Our overall goal is to protect wildlife and wildlife habitat while limiting wildlife- related conflict with property owners and Open Space visitors. Rangers believe that the best way to achieve this goal is through education.
by KCRMA Open Space Manager Sean Warren