Spring Wildlife Tips
Each spring, calls from concerned Denver citizens come in wanting to help wildlife. As spring approaches, you can expect to see newborn and young wildlife that may appear to be sick, abandoned or injured. There are very few instances where human intervention is necessary. Download our wildlife tips flyer to learn more!
It may be odd to think about wildlife living and even thriving in city infrastructure, but Denver is home to many urban wildlife species and has entire functioning ecosystems that support herbivores, omnivores, carnivores and scavengers alongside people and their pets, vehicles and buildings.
Everyone encounters wildlife in everyday city life, from watching a squirrel run along the fence and enjoying the sound of birds chirping, to shooing away raccoons scavenging through the trash. Because wildlife can sometimes seem like a nuisance, it's easy to take for granted the character they add to our backyards and parks. These creatures have adapted to our way of life, taking advantage of urban conveniences and the habitats the city creates. Learn more about successfully coexisting with wildlife by reading below.
Please leave injured and urban wildlife alone!
Report a problem at pocketgov.com or by calling 311 (720.913.1311).
As the City of Denver continues to grow impacting wildlife habitat, it often times displaces and affects the natural order of wild animals. Some species continue to live in open-space areas, parks, undeveloped parcels of land, river bottoms, and on or near bodies of water. Others have adapted quite well to urban living; skunks, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, foxes, coyotes and geese, in particular, seem to thrive in and near the city.
A little effort in preventing conflicts with wildlife goes a long way. The key to keeping unwanted wildlife out of homes and yards is to make them feel unwelcome:
Download the full tip sheet for more information on avoiding conflicts with bats, geese, raccoons, snakes, skunks and more.
Canada geese are a common species in the Denver Metro Area. They are easy to identify and are noticeable with their dark black heads and white chinstraps. A Canada goose can reach 20‐25 lbs in size.
Traditional parks with large expanses of Kentucky blue grass lawns and open access to shallow lakes are unintentionally ideal and preferred goose habitat. Geese feed on the grass, have open views in all directions to watch for predators and have easy access to get on the water to escape from potential danger.
Considerations & strategies for making areas less attractive to geese:
Lethal removal or relocation is not an option:
Why don’t we “thin” out the numbers of geese
Coyotes are native to the Midwestern prairies and have always been found in Colorado's Front Range. They are highly intelligent, adaptable animals and are therefore one of the few species of that has been able to expand its range, even as natural areas and other species decline in numbers.
After decades of development, coyotes have become more urban as multiple generations of offspring have been born in cities. People, houses, pets, and cars are a normal part of their lives. An urban coyote has a completely different lifestyle than a coyote living in a rural area and has been raised by its family to survive in cities.
Feeding coyotes, either on purpose or accidentally, is the biggest culprit in creating problems. Coyotes in our urban environment have become used to living in close proximity to humans and associate people with food, reducing their natural wariness in interactions with people and pets. Every time a coyote sees a person and nothing happens, it increases their boldness and comfort in closer interactions.
Coyotes are naturally curious but timid and will normally run away if confronted, making attacks on humans are rare. In most cases, these attacks occur as a result of people feeding coyotes or habituating them in some manner. A coyote that associates humans with food may become demanding and aggressive. By feeding coyotes you put yourself, your neighborhood and the animals at risk. It is unlawful to feed or intentionally attract coyotes in most urban areas.
Make sure you can identify a coyote: they are brownish-gray with light gray to reddish cream-colored belly. Look for long legs, pointed nose and ears, and a bushy tail with black tip.
Discourage a coyote from approaching:
While people are rarely in danger, coyotes can and do target pets as both competition and potential food sources. Human pets are often not adapted to protect themselves from wild animals and can be much easier targets than normal prey. Making educated coyote-management decisions regarding your pets is the best way to protect them.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has the final say on the lethal action regarding coyotes. It's been proven to be a short-term solution with long-term problems. When territory is vacated, coyotes are attracted to it, and coyote litters will increase in size to fill the territory (a single coyote can have up to 12 pups). Removing the pack leaders can lead to multiple packs forming with more females able to breed. There are often increases in the overall size of a local population, leading to increased fighting for territory and greater numbers of young animals causing problems for the community.
Relocating coyotes has been proven to be completely unsuccessful. They are notoriously difficult to trap and will travel huge distances to return to the area. Additionally, it is illegal in the state of Colorado to relocate urban coyotes.
Exclusion techniques --techniques to both remove attractants to coyotes and to discourage coyotes from entering unsuitable locations-- are currently the most successful tool in reducing coyote problems and populations in cities. It must be conducted on a community-wide level to see large improvements but even individual efforts can “teach” local coyotes which yards, parks, and people to avoid. Long term reduction in food sources for coyotes is the most effective means to reduce population size.
Hazing coyotes has proven to be the most effective method for instilling the healthy and natural fear of humans back into the coyotes. Coyotes are quick learners and consistent negative experiences can teach them to avoid people.
The Parks and Recreation Department/Natural Resources, in partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife encourage residents and city staff to use exclusion techniques on coyotes.
Exclusion techniques are not a quick fix. Relate this to never saying no to a child. The first time they hear it they won’t understand or believe it. Use the below techniques consistently over time as the most effective means to establishing appropriate human/coyote interactions:
Prairie dogs are visually motivated and are likely to move into an area that looks like a good foraging site. By obstructing their view of your yard, they are less likely to move in. Prairie dogs are also naturally wary and avoid places where predators and other animals can hide.
Keep prairie dogs out of your yard with strategic landscaping:
Relocation is a last option when damage is occurring to property.
In Colorado, it is lawful to capture, transport, and relocate black-tailed prairie dogs from one site to another ONLY WITH a permit from Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). It's important that private property owners take responsibility to make educated decisions on how to manage prairie dogs on their property.
Please be aware of the following when considering relocation:
It is illegal to feed foxes in Denver.
If a fox enters your yard, yell, wave your arms or a broom, or bang on something to make noise to scare it away.
Be consistent, foxes are extremely intelligent and will learn locations where they are not welcome.
Danger to small pets is possible, although typically rare. Pets under 10 lbs. would be most vulnerable to predation. Foxes typically avoid human contact and are easily scared. If a fox approaches, yelling and waving your arms should frighten it off.
When intentionally or accidentally fed, foxes can become aggressive. Remember that food means survival to wildlife and they will do what’s necessary to survive. It is not uncommon for playful foxes to initiate play with dogs or cats.
Foxes become more nocturnal in areas with a lot of people and are generally crepuscular, out in the early morning and evening, but can be out at any time of the day.
They are territorial, and will maintain several dens throughout their territory with one larger den used for giving birth and raising kits. Dens are used every year and often passed on through generations.
Foxes generally avoid contact with people, but may initiate play with pets. They also have been known to “tease” dogs by barking and racing around outside of their reach. When a fox is fed, they can become too comfortable and bold around people and are more likely to bite or be injured by dogs, cars or people. To keep foxes safe and away from people and pets, it's best to chase them off and yell at them if approached.