Christmas Lights, Netted Play Equipment and Other Outdoor Items Can Cause a Hazard to Deer
By Sean Warren, Open Space Manager
In mid-October, the Rangers helped to rescue a mule deer buck that had gotten its antlers entangled in a portable soccer net that was in a Valley Resident’s back yard. The Rangers did manage to free the animal, but were unable to remove all the netting from its antlers. Since then, we have received calls from folks concerned about the well-being of the buck. We ask anyone that sees this deer to observe if the animal’s feeding, breathing or vision is impaired and if so, please contact the rangers by calling 303-979-1876, ext. 170. Otherwise, this condition does not pose a threat to the animal and the netting will eventually come off either through daily wear and tear or when the buck sheds its antlers during the winter months.
This incident reminds us that while it is not uncommon to see the occasional buck carrying around unwanted items in its antlers during the summer and fall months, we definitely see an increase in this problem during the holiday season, as property owners put up their outdoor lights and other decorations.
Please remember to think about wildlife when decorating your property for the holidays. This time of year, Park Rangers receive many calls regarding deer entangled in light strands or even netting. Below are some tips from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to keep in mind;
- Wait to put up outdoor lights on posts, shrubs or small trees until after the peak of the deer rut, sometime after the first week of December.
- Trees with trunk diameters of two to six inches are most likely to be rubbed by bucks, which entangle lights in their antlers only string lights on larger diameter trees.
- Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long strand so that if animals become entangled, they will have less wire to deal with.
- Avoid stringing lights “clothesline” style across areas — firmly attach lights to tree limbs, gutters, or fence posts.
- Place some flagging along the wired decorations so that deer can see where the wire is and avoid entanglement.
These ideas can also apply to general yard planning year-round. Wildlife can also benefit from:
-Removing volleyball nets from their posts during the winter – don’t wrap nets around the post, as animals may still be enticed to rub their antlers on it and get caught.
-Disconnecting and storing water hoses, tomato cages and other gardening materials (netting, stakes, ties, etc.) until spring.
-Taking down and storing hammocks and swings when not in use.
Ken-Caryl Ranch Park Rangers will investigate a report regarding a deer entangled in lights or netting only if it is impeding the deer’s sight, feeding and/or mobility. If the light strand or netting is not causing harm and is just a nuisance, rangers will ask the reporting party to casually observe the animal over the next few weeks to see if the situation worsens. If you have any questions, please feel free to call the rangers for more information at 303-979-1876, ext. 170.