Editor’s Note: This story first appeared in Move To Steamboat and Yampa Valley magazine, published December 23, 2022.
Many people who visit or move to the Steamboat Springs area may not realize that their new home is a natural haven for a wide variety of wildlife that makes them new neighbors. Hmm.
While black bears dominate news headlines, the Yampa Valley is also home to elk, elk, deer, foxes, coyotes, mountain lions, prairie rattlesnakes, bald eagles, sandhill cranes, ospreys, grouse, raccoons and skunks. increase.
“We’re surrounded by good wildlife habitat. Steamboat towns are surrounded by valleys, so we’re really stuck in their habitat and often growing there,” he said. said Lexi Stein, director of adult programs at Yanpatika, a non-profit environmental education organization.
Steamboat and much of Loot County are surrounded by national forests, and their proximity means more wildlife is nearby. In addition, the diverse habitats throughout the Yampa Valley, from mountain shrubs to riparian areas to woodlands, ensure good habitats for a wide variety of animals.
“For a lot of wildlife, there’s a little bit of everything,” Stein said. “People are most interested in learning what to do when they encounter these animals.”
That means newcomers need to educate themselves on the best ways to interact with and stay safe with wildlife, from securing bear-proof litter boxes to leasing dogs.
Yampatika and Colorado Parks and Wildlife educators shared seven key recommendations, but advised that certain animals have different rules of engagement to learn. Experts encourage people to pick up brochures, sign up for educational trips with Yanpatika Naturalist, and check out CPW’s website for tips and short videos.
Loot County is a bear habitat, and the proximity to natural lands, combined with bad human habits, leads some bears to live within city limits. Close and lock the first floor windows and doors, lock the vehicle (yes, bears are smart enough to open some car doors), and consider it an attractive den for bears and other animals Be prepared to seal off any porch or under-deck space that might be. Do not pick the fruit from the top or bottom.
“Animals will be comfortable on your property if you’re not smart about their food sources,” warned Bubenheim.
If a resident sees a bear, they should enjoy the area for a very short period of time and then make loud noises such as honking their horns, banging pots, or using air horns to make the bear very uncomfortable. increase. For more information, please visit http://www.SteamboatSprings.net/bears..
beware of moose
According to CPW terrestrial biologist Eric Vanatta, over the past 20 years, the white-lipped elk population in Root County has increased sevenfold, reaching an estimated 350 individuals.
Keep a good distance from large, long-legged moose to ensure that the animal has a clear escape route. Please tie up all the dogs. Dogs appear to be natural predators to moose, so if a dog approaches a moose, checks it out, and decides to return to its owner, the moose may follow.
“The biggest thing to remember is that you can encounter wildlife at any time,” Stein said. “Keeping dogs on a leash is a very good way to ensure that they are not unintentionally bothering or harassing wildlife.”
beware the trail
On trails and open spaces, residents may encounter a wide variety of wildlife and should be aware and noisy. Do not hike or cycle while wearing the earbuds. Some people hike with a can of bear spray easily accessible from a side pocket, but it’s important to learn how to use the spray properly first.
Libby Miller, CPW’s 26-year wildlife biologist, said:
let the baby
Spring is the time to see young wildlife. Do not pick up or “rescue” cute little “orphan” animals. According to CPW, mothers are usually nearby and may hide chicks as they forage, or sit outside the nest for chicks learning to fly.
According to CPW, “What humans might misinterpret as ‘abandonment’ is actually wild animals living healthy, wild lives.”
watch out for the signs
It is closed from December 1st to April 15th to protect elk habitat in the winter and is closed again for the spring calving season from May 15th to June 15th. Please respect all closing signs.
“Elk enclosures exist because moose are so stressed during the winter that they are essentially starving,” Stein said. “They stay warm and move through deep snow. Humans are usually seen as predators: if you frighten an elk in the winter, it will escape and consume very precious energy, making it less likely to reach you in the spring. may become.”
For more information, visit cpw.state.co.us/learn/pages/livingwithwildlife.aspx..
Be especially careful while driving Local roads especially at dawn and dusk to avoid collisions with wildlife. Collisions with wildlife are very common due to migration patterns and diversions across highways and county roads. Slow down, stay alert, scan for movement along the roadside ahead, and be prepared for animals moving in packs.
An important time to watch out for is the daylight saving time change in early November. More people are driving home in the dark, and animals may migrate from higher to lower elevations.
Let’s not forget that Loot County residents love their dogs. Many owners believe that dogs can remember quickly. But that is rarely the case when dogs sniff wildlife. Steamboat has several off-leash parks for dogs. For more information, please visit http://www.SteamboatDigsDogs.com..
To contact Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.