By Claire Cleveland / NewsBreak
(Denver, Colo.) A raccoon rummaging through your garbage or startling your household pets may seem like a nuisance, but raccoons, squirrels, birds and other Denver wildlife serve an essential role in the city’s ecosystem.
Each spring, newborn and young wildlife come into contact with people. And sadly, those situations often end badly.
Denver Parks and Recreation advises that even if the tiny squirrel looks helpless or needs help, it’s best for the animal and the person to leave it alone.
Every year the city gets flooded with calls from concerned citizens wanting to “help” these animals. Still, there are very few instances where human intervention is necessary, says Vicki Vargas-Madrid, the city’s wildlife specialist.
Madrid created a flier with information for city-goers. In it, she outlines tips on what to do if you come across young wildlife.
- Leave young birds or wildlife where you find them.
- Keep pets away.
- Quietly observe from a distance using binoculars.
- An adult may be nearby, even if you do not see it.
- If parents do not return after 24 hours, contact 311 or Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Suppose there’s a situation in which an animal, like a large bird of prey, is injured. In that case, the city recommends calling wildlife officials who can assess the situation and help the animal.
Report wildlife concerns to:
- Wildlife Hotline at 720-913-0630
- For injured wildlife, call Wild Bird Rescue and Rehab at 303-927-7348; or Greenwood Wildlife Rehab Center at 303-823-8455
- For injured raptors, call Birds of Prey Foundation at 303-460-0674
- For wildlife emergencies, call 311 for a Park Ranger; CO State Patrol at 303-239-4501, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 303-291-7227
Aside from young animals in the spring, there are other ways to protect wild animals and your property. For example, never feed wildlife.
Doing so can be dangerous. Remember the Ouray woman who fed bears in her backyard with dog food and then was killed by a bear?
Bears love fruit trees, so cover trees and window wells or holes around the foundation of your home. Storing garbage properly also keeps bears and raccoons from finding a reason to stick around.
Bears? You might be wondering, here in Denver? It’s happened -- like this bear who was found in Aurora.
As human and wildlife interactions increase, being vigilant becomes more critical.