Leave young wildlife alone, wildlife experts say
Kate Sheldon watched with alarm as a neighbor’s off-leash dog separated about three dozen elk cows and calves from their herd.
It all started innocently enough with sunset happy hour walkers along Eagle’s recreation path in Eagle Ranch. As dog owners sometimes do, some let their dogs off leash for a little exercise. One dog owner even threw a ball for his dog in the direction of the frantic elk.
In a few minutes, Eagle police and Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers were there, imploring people to avoid the elk and keep their dogs leashed. The sunset strollers were generally congenial and agreeable.
The elk finally settled down and rested for the night. The next morning they were gone, rejoining the huge herd in the fields along Brush Creek Road south of Eagle.
Concerned citizens are welcome to call the CPW Denver Headquarters at 303-297-1192, or any CPW office, if they suspect an animal is injured or abandoned, or to report incidents of feeding or other illegal wildlife activity. More information about young wildlife is available at http://www.cpw.state.co.us.
The message is not new from Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials: Leave young wildlife alone.
It’s that time of year when often well-meaning people deluge CPW offices with visits and phone calls to report that they have “rescued” young wild animals that appeared to be “abandoned” by adult animals. Young animals do not need rescuing and can survive without human intervention.
“Young wildlife has the best chance of survival when they are left in the care of their wild parents,” CPW Senior Wildlife Biologist Shannon Schaller said. “People mean well when they take wildlife from the wild, but removing young animals improperly from their natural habit is often the wrong thing to do.”
It can lead to mothers rejecting their young and creating a harmful situation for young wildlife.
What humans might misinterpret as “abandonment” is actually wild animals living a healthy, wild life, said Frank McGee, an area wildlife manager with CPW.
Young wildlife is often left alone in a safe location while adult animals search for food. It is also common for baby birds to sit outside of their nest as they grow bigger and learn to fly, McGee said.
It’s for your safety, too. The mother is probably nearby and might attack if she thinks her young are in danger, McGee said.
Don’t feed animals, either. It’s illegal in Colorado, plus it’s bad for the animals.
“Wild animals have complex digestive systems and some human food is toxic to animals,” McGee said. “Young wildlife need to find natural food sources on their own in order to survive and thrive.”
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