We frequently catch glimpses of bears, mountain lions, coyotes, deer, elk, foxes, raccoons, skunks, owls, eagles, hawks, woodpeckers, bats, and even moose. Yet as these animals lose their fear of humans and venture into the city, there is danger to both humans and animals. In addition, without responsible safeguards, animals can also cause damage to your home and property. Just a few simple rules make it easier to coexist, and to protect them.
For example, this is the time of year when bears are out feeding as much as they can to get ready for their winter hibernation. Just last week, bears were spotted roaming as far as 75th Street east of Boulder. It could be because Wednesday morning is trash day in most of those neighborhoods. Bear-proof trash containers are not required that far to the east, but it makes sense to secure your trash as best as possible, or maybe wait until the morning of trash pickup before putting it out.
With temperatures cooling and the beauty of fall leaves changing color, our local trails are at peak capacity. It important not to litter and to keep your pets under control while hiking or walking. As the snowpack increases, a dog chasing an animal can put undue stress on wildlife.
The holiday season will be here soon, too, and extra trash and decorations can present unique issues with wildlife. If you have ever seen an elk or deer trying to shake a string of holiday lights off its antlers, you realize how important it is to think about where you place and discard your decorations. If you live on the west side of Boulder or in the mountains, be sure to have your lights and décor situated high and out of the way of known wildlife corridors.
It is also never a good idea to leave food out for wildlife. People will often lay food out to draw animals closer so they can view them. However, leaving food for them takes the wild out of wildlife, and it actually hurts them by making them more dependent on human food, which can lead to health issues and disease, expose them to dangerous places away from their natural habitats, disrupt the ecosystem, and cause them to become aggressive. An example of these unintended consequences is setting out a salt lick to attract deer for viewing opportunities. It may seem harmless, but if you invite deer, you could also attract mountain lions that love to prey upon the deer.
Here are a few additional tips to keep a safe distance and maintain a respectful relationship with our Colorado wildlife by making your home wildlife proof:
• Secure all trash in wildlife proof containers. Don’t leave the trash out overnight.
• Don’t put food or salt licks out for wildlife.
• Make sure to compost bin has a tight lid.
• Secure pet food inside a garage or house.
• Harvest any ripe fruit from your fruit trees.
• Make sure any bird feeders/hummingbird feeders are well out of reach. Birdseed can attract deer, rodents, and coyotes that hunt rodents.
• Keep your BBQ clean and place it inside after use.
• Keep unattended pets inside, or in a kennel or on a leash. Do not allow them to roam unsecured as they can kill smaller animals — or alternatively, become prey to wildlife.
• Make sure your car is clean and locked. Don’t leave food in it. You’ve seen bears in car videos, right?
• Address signs of damage from animals or holes where they can burrow or access your home, especially in the chimney, roof, attic, porches, and deck.
• Trim trees and maintain your yard. Squirrels can jump from trees onto your roof. Overgrown vegetation and wood piles can attract them.
• Plant native flowers, shrubs and trees, and control weeds.
• Use fencing to keep deer, raccoons, and rabbits out of your garden.
• Secure your outdoor hot tub with a strong cover. Bears love a good soak when they wake up this spring!
• Never try to domesticate wildlife or make them your pets.
For more information on living safely with wildlife, visit the City of Boulder’s website at bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/wildlife-overview.
By Duane Duggan. Duane has been a Realtor for RE/MAX of Boulder in Colorado since 1982. Living the life of a Realtor and being immersed in real estate led to the inception of his book, Realtor
for Life. For questions, e-mail [email protected], call 303.441.5611 or visit boulderco.com.