As you’re out and about exploring Colorado’s natural landscape, there’s a good chance you’ll encounter wildlife. Here are 6 tips for safely interacting with the creatures you’ll find in the Centennial State.
1. They’re called “wild” animals for a reason.
Visitors to Colorado will sometimes think that because there are so many animals here, they’re more likely to interact with humans in a peaceful manner. This isn’t the case. If you encounter an animal that’s not a dog or a cat while outside, it’s probably wild, untrained, and unpredictable. Don’t make it feel threatened or approach. This applies to animals you’ll spot in the urban setting, elk in Estes Park, for instance.
2. Don’t harass the wild animals.
Don’t try to touch them. Don’t approach them for a picture. Don’t yell at them in attempt to get their attention. Acting in these ways around wild animals in Colorado is actually illegal and carries a hefty fine. Plus, it can be stinkin’ dangerous. When a wild animal is provoked, there’s a good chance they’ll try to defend themselves.
3. Don’t let animals get your human food.
First and foremost, never feed a wild animal. It teaches them to become dependent on humans and can really mess up their diet. Also important is that you don’t make food accessible to wild animals unintentionally. If you’re in a spot where there’s animal activity, lock up your leftovers and trash and consider using bear bags to keep your treats out of their reach. The more food that animals get from humans, the more likely they are to seek out humans for food. This can be problematic, as animals that do this risk being euthanized.
4. Colorado is home to some dangerous creatures.
There are some animals you’ll need to watch out for in Colorado, including but not limited to moose, bears, mountain lions, and rattlesnakes. Encounters with wild animals can be deadly. Know how to react when you spot an aggressive creature. General rule of thumb is to slowly create distance between yourself and a wild animal, making lots of noise if trying to startle the animal into retreat is necessary. That being said, how you react to each encounter will need to cater to the animal you’re encountering.
5. You might see wild animals in an urban setting.
Just because you spot an animal in the city, doesn’t mean it’s any more tame that its wilderness counterpart. Places like Estes Park and Colorado Springs are known for attracting big mammals like elk and deer. While these animals might be more comfortable around automobiles and people, they’ll still charge or attack when threatened.
6. Leave it where you see it.
This goes for animals both alive and dead. Never try to catch a Colorado animal and keep it as a pet. Likewise, if you come across a carcass or bones, leave them be. Not only can remains carry disease, they can also be an important part of the food chain for species like fox, which often rely on carrion for their livelihood, or the decaying flesh of dead animals.
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