Common sense is the best approach
By David Josselyn
The CSU Extension continued their series, Living With Wildlife, Saturday, May 4th, at the Gilpin Community Center with coyotes, black bears, elk, mountain lions and moose being the topics of discussion. Mary Ann Bonnell, Senior Natural Resources Specialist from the City of Aurora Parks, Recreation and Open Space handled the coyote portion with much aplomb, while Mary McCormac from Colorado Parks and Wildlife stampeded through the other animals.
Howling About Canines
Mary Ann started working for the City of Aurora and was thrown into the coyotes den quickly when a councilperson pleaded with her with tears streaming down her cheeks to do something about a coyote that killed her dog. Since then, Mary Ann spent many hours of research and observation learning about the American jackals. There are two primary attitudes the public has regarding the coyote – shoot the animal or shoot the people. Our attitude should be somewhere in between. “For us to get along with wildlife, we have to understand wildlife,” said Mary Ann. The important thing to remember is that “we are all coyote trainers.” We teach the coyote where there is easy food or from where to stay away. Many of us in Gilpin County own dogs so we must know that coyotes see dogs as their primary competition. Bonnell informed us that the coyote population increased with the disappearance of wolves. “You remove wolves and all of a sudden coyotes get to have a non-stop party.” Coyotes will live where life is easier. “The real housewives of Aurora” living in Cherry Hills Village provide an excellent habitat for coyotes, even leaving food out so they can see the creatures. Do not do this! Instead, make noise and “give them the business.” Mary Ann demonstrated giving the coyotes “the business” by waving her hands in the air and letting out a screech that curled my hair.
Do you know what to do?
The coyote presentation included a quiz asking if the following statements are savvy or silly. These statements have all been actually uttered or written by the good people of Colorado.
“Those peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are for the stray cats.”
“I let my dog off leash to play with the coyotes every night.”
“I thought that if I left one chicken bone out in the yard per day, the coyotes would leave the rabbits alone.”
“I looked up after grabbing the morning paper and saw a coyote at the end of the drive, so I threw the paper at it.”
“I enjoy watching coyotes in my backyard. They’ve been here every winter for about three years. They all have names.”
“I would have hazed the coyote, but I was in my pajamas.”
I reiterate, all these statements are real from your fellow man. If you realized that there is only one savvy statement and the rest are foolish – you may know your coyotes. Just in case you didn’t catch it, throwing a newspaper at the animal is the correct attitude to have toward the creatures.
Bear, Elk, Mountain Lion, and Moose
Mary McCormac quickly presented information on bears, elk, mountain lions and moose. The best approach to all these animals is common sense; lock up your trash, don’t throw food out on your property, etc.
Like the phone company, black bear will come at you with false charges. For the most part, bears will not attack humans unless they have no other options. It’s just not in their interest.
Colorado is the elk capital of the world with more than 250,000 in the state. There is a movement in North America to call elk by their Native American name, wapiti.
Mountain Lions breed year round. What this means is that they do not have specific times of year when they are more likely to be around humans.
Moose were introduced to Colorado in 1979 adding 12 animals to the wilds around Walden in North Park. The “hangy down thing” from their necks is called a bell and is typically longer on the male than the female. The word “moose” means eater of twigs. Moose do not like dogs; they would rather stomp on your dog than run away from it. In Europe and Asia, moose are called elk, which is the reason some people are trying to get us to call elk by their other name, wapiti.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife also brought along a full mountain lion and black bear pelt which delighted the kids and some adults.