Does are dear; don't bug 'em

Residents concerned about deer's safety

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A pair of young deer that have sought winter refuge outside the SnowFlower Condominiums should be left alone, said Valerie Masiello, district wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Masiello said she and the Routt County Sheriff's Office have been receiving five to 10 calls a day about the deer hunkered down in trees next to the tourist condos and the busy Mount Werner Road and AprÃs Ski Way intersection.

People are concerned about the welfare of the two does -- whether they are getting enough food and whether they are endangered by traffic. Residents have made several requests for the DOW to move them into a more wildlife friendly area.

The DOW has a policy not to relocate wildlife, Masiello said. The stress of anesthesia, which would be required for relocation, places wild animals at risk of injury, trauma, hypothermia and death. Relocation is considered only as a last resort, Masiello said.

Bears typically are the only animals the DOW relocates, Masiello said, because they are larger animals that seem to handle the stress better.

"Relocating (the deer) is going to make people feel a lot better, but it is not going to do anything beneficial for the deer," Masiello said.

People have been slowing down to see the animals and standing in the middle of the road to take pictures of them, Masiello said.

Masiello urges people not to feed the deer, which she said is unlawful and unnatural. She also said reports have been made about people harassing the deer by throwing rocks and snowballs, which she also said is unlawful.

She said anyone who witnesses harassment or feeding of wildlife should contact the DOW immediately.

"It just seems we don't have a wildlife problem, we have a people problem," she said.

The deer appear to be healthy and have food, water and shelter, Masiello said. When food runs out, she predicts the deer will find another more suitable location.

"If there is no natural food available and you are not artificially supplying them, the wildlife will move on," she said.

Part of the problem is tourists coming to town every week might not be familiar with how to handle wildlife in urban areas, Masiello said.

"I encourage locals to do what they can to educate them," she said.

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