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Check Yards For Possible Entanglement Risks

Elk Tangled

Estes Park News photo

Rick Spowart, Wildlife Manager with Colorado Parks and Wildlife last week had to drug immobilize a bull elk that was caught up in a hammock.

Bull elk will spar with anything that moves and Spowart is now urging all residents to please bring in your swings, tetherballs, hammocks, ropes, anything that an elk may become entangled with and pose a threat to their life.

Outdoor lighting and decorations can pose serious hazards to wildlife, especially deer and elk. And, unfortunately, not a year goes by without wildlife officers being called to rescue animals caught in wired lights or decorations stuck on animals’ horns, antlers, heads or legs. Most of these incidents can be prevented by following a few simple tips on where and how to use decorations.

• Wait to put up outdoor lights on posts, shrubs or small trees until after the peak of the elk deer rut, sometime after the first week of December.

• Trees with trunk diameters of two to six inches are most likely to be rubbed by bulls and bucks which entangle lights in their antlers –only string lights on larger diameter trees.

• Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long strand so that if animals become entangled they will have less cord to deal with.

• Avoid stringing lights “clothesline” style across areas — firmly attach lights to tree limbs, gutters, or fence posts.

• Place flagging along the wired decorations so that deer can see where the wire is and avoid entanglement.

These ideas can also apply to general yard planning year-round. Wildlife can also benefit from:

• Removing volleyball nets from their posts during the winter– don’t wrap nets around the post, as animals may still be enticed to rub their antlers on it and become entangled.

• Disconnecting and storing water hoses, tomato cages and other garden materials (netting, stakes, ties, etc.) until spring.

• Taking down and storing hammocks and swings when not in use.

• Flagging or removing empty clotheslines until they are needed.

If you do spot an entangled animal, do not approach or try to help. Greater injury to the animal or injury to the person may result. Precaution is the preferred tool to problem-solving.

Because of this, Colorado Parks and Wildlife generally does not remove objects from animals unless the object is impeding the animal’s movement, has completely blocked the animal’s vision, or is around the animal’s jaw, neck or chest where constriction will affect survival. In the case of deer and elk with wire or other non-life threatening materials on the antlers, the problem usually comes in mid-winter when antlers are annually shed.

Call the Estes Park Police non emergency number at 586-4000 and they will page Rick Spowart or another CPW official who will come to the animal’s aid.

© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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