Steamboat Springs Early summer is a good time to see baby animals, but people are urged to leave them alone - even if the animals appear to be abandoned.
"We know that people are trying to be helpful, but young animals are best cared for by their own parents," said Tony Gurzick, the Colorado Division of Wi ldlife's assistant manager in the southwest region. "The best thing people can do is to leave young wildlife alone."
During spring and early summer, wildlife are giving birth to their young across Colorado, which means young animals may wind up in backyards or along the sides of roads. Baby moose have been spotted in Routt County.
"The animals have not been abandoned," Gurzick cautioned. "Young animals are often left alone to allow the mother to feed, to help them avoid predators and to learn how to live in the wild."
Fawns appear harmless, but deer are a perfect example of a regional animal that adapts behaviors to help them survive. Fawns have no scent and are born with spots for camouflage. When the mother senses danger, she leaves her young because she lacks natural protection and doesn't want to endanger her baby.
"Be aware," said Cheron Ferland, wildlife biologist at the Routt National Forest. "If you see a female elk or deer, assume that she has a baby nearby."
Young birds are another example of a seemingly approachable animal, but their parents often push them out of nests to encourage them to fly, said Chad Morgan, a district wildlife manager in the Greeley area.
"If a young bird is on the ground it will quickly learn to fly," Morgan assured concerned Colorado residents. "It's best to let nature take its course."
Young birds make easy prey for domestic cats that are naturally predators, so the DOW asks people to keep their pets under control while on walks, hikes or simply when they let their animals out into yards.
"It's especially important to keep your dogs close to you so they don't chase the adults or young ones," Ferland said. "And never approach them to get a better look. Please respect wildlife's need for security during this critical time of year."
The stress of being attacked is often fatal for young animals unable to defend themselves.
Except for birdfeeders, people should not feed wild animals. Providing food causes animals to bunch up in small areas, which makes them vulnerable to disease and predation. If animals equate an area with a food source, they could become aggressive in that area to defend their food, which could be dangerous to humans and pets, the DOW cautioned.
Camping and hiking are popular spring and summer activities, and the DOW encourages people to use the national forests and other state parks. Nature is meant to be enjoyed, but it's also meant to be shared, said the DOW.
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