Respect Mother Nature and Baby Wildlife
Warm weather is here, and with it comes the arrival of baby birds and mammals to Colorado. It’s a good time to remember that newborn wildlife may be found in local yards, along trails, or in open spaces – and the best advice is to leave them alone.
Each year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife receives scores of calls from concerned humans about wildlife that have been “abandoned” by adult animals. Many are tempted to “help” a young animal by picking it up or trying to feed it, however it is critical that people understand there is no substitute for their natural parents.
Wildlife experts agree that it is quite normal for adult animals to leave their young in a safe place while they go forage for food. And often baby birds are learning to fly or fledging, near their nests when they are deemed abandoned. While well-meaning people sometimes gather up this baby wildlife and bring them to wildlife rehabilitation facilities, it is often the wrong thing to do.
“Baby mammals are nearly scentless in order to prevent predators from finding them,” said Janet George, senior terrestrial biologist for CPW. “When humans touch these animals, they are imparting them with a scent their adults will not recognize or even fear. This can result in true abandonment of healthy offspring.”
Baby birds are a different story. They can be moved out of harm’s way or placed back in the nest if they are songbirds. However, do not try this with raptors! Great-horned owls and other raptors are territorial and have been known to fly at humans seen as a threat to their young.
If you find young wildlife, enjoy a quick glimpse, leave the animal where it is, and keep pets out of the area. Quietly observe the animal from a distance using binoculars and don’t hover so close that the wild parents are afraid to return to the area.
“If 24 hours go by and the parent does not return, it is possible the newborn was abandoned or something happened to the adult animal,” said Jenny Campbell, customer service expert with CPW. “Call our office and we will work with a certified wildlife rehabilitation center to get aid for the wildlife if possible. Don’t move the animal yourself.”
“It’s hard to stand back when your instincts are telling you to do something,” said Lea Peshock, Animal Care Supervisor at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. “But the best chance these animals truly have is staying in the wild.”
“The most important rule to follow when you encounter a baby mammal or songbird that you suspect may be abandoned is to wait at a distance and observe,” said Peshock.
If it’s established that the animal is an orphan, remember not to feed it or even give it water. This can be a very hard rule to follow, but there are good reasons behind it.
“The animal can aspirate or consume the wrong type of food and die. If you feed a cold animal, it can die. Given there are so many variables, the most important thing you can do for it is let it be assessed by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator,” said Peshock. “As much as we feel the natural pull to help animals that we think are in trouble, sometimes it’s best to just leave the animal be.”
In addition to potential harm for wildlife, humans need to recognize the potential harm to people and pets, as well. There can be risks associated with the handling of wildlife animals, including disease transmission of rabies, distemper or other illnesses. Wildlife can also carry fleas that might subsequently spread disease to humans or pets.
Finally, it is imperative for Coloradoans to understand that it is illegal to own or possess wildlife in the state. People can avoid heartache if they don’t “adopt” the cute baby raccoon or skunk. Human-raised and hand-fed animals are rarely returned to the wild due to their lack of survival skills or imprint on humans. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are trained to use methods that will give a wild animal the best chance of surviving upon release.
Spring Turkey Season Ends In Two Weeks
Through May 26, some 12,000 hunters will take to the fields and woods in Colorado as part of one of the fastest growing hunting sports in the United States – turkey hunting. Colorado hunters pursue turkeys on both private and public land during the 44-day spring season.
Last year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued over 15,000 licenses for the spring season and hunters bagged 3,300 gobblers.
Colorado is home to two subspecies of wild turkeys. The Merriam’s wild turkey, a Colorado native, inhabits areas of ponderosa pine, oak-brush and piñon/juniper woodlands of the southeastern plains, Front Range and western Colorado. The Rio Grande wild turkey, native to the central plains states, was introduced into eastern Colorado in 1980. In Colorado, the Rio Grande primarily inhabits cottonwood stands and river bottoms adjacent to agricultural lands.
During the spring season, hunters can take two bearded turkeys of which one must be taken with a limited license, and the other taken with an over-the-counter license.
The challenge of outsmarting a wild turkey is one of the most rewarding experiences a hunter may encounter.
“Success is often a combination of scouting, persistence, and patience; but that’s what makes it fun and challenging,” said Mike Brown, a District Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Get Your Car Ready For Summer Travel
But before you hit the road, get your vehicle ready for travel.
These good maintenance practices will help keep you behind the wheel and out of the shop:
For proper, safer handling of your car and better gas mileage, ensure that your tires are not over or underinflated. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended tire pressure. But remember, in warmer temperatures the air pressure in your tires will rise.
Rotate your tires on a regular basis to even out wear. While doing so, inspect the tread. If they’re unevenly or overly worn, replace them immediately. And don’t forget to keep a properly inflated spare tire in your trunk for roadside emergencies.
Monitor your air conditioner for performance. Is it running as well as last year? Have your A/C serviced annually to avoid a literally sticky situation.
Replace worn windshield wipers. Getting caught in a rainstorm with bad windshield wipers greatly impairs visibility and can be a safety hazard for you and other drivers.
Change the Oil
The last place you’ll want to be on your vacation is in the shop. By preparing, you can pave the way for a hassle-free summer on the road.
In high school sports over the weekend:
In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat beat Cheyenne Mountain in the second round of the playoffs (10-9)
In girls soccer:
Moffat County fell to Manitou Springs in the 1st round of the playoffs in double overtime (2-1)
Steamboat’s remaining teams fell before the championship rounds at the state tournament.