Prairie Rattler

Prairie Rattler

Prairie Rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis)
Roxborough State Park, Colorado
Sony A200 w/ Sony 75-300mm lens @ 120mm
1/400 sec @ f5.6 iso 400
© G. Runco / Teklanika Photography 2016

“Killdeer”

© Teklanika Photography 2010
© Teklanika Photography 2010

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)
Chatfield State Park, Colorado
Sony A200
Sony 75-300mm lens @ 300mm
1/80 sec @ f5.6
iso 400
© Teklanika Photography 2010

“Colorado Coyote”

© Teklanika Photography 2014
© Teklanika Photography 2014

Coyote (Canis latrans)
Cherry Creek State Park, Colorado
Canon 7D
Canon 100-400mm lens @ 400mm
1/800 sec @ f5.6
iso 200
© Teklanika Photography 2014

Happy New Year – 2011 Highlights

Quite a year for me! I’ve gone from working with fish for the Division of Wildlife in Colorado to working with birds at the Bird Treatment & Learning Center, a wild bird rehab and education center in Alaska.

As for wildlife watching and photography, I’ve had many “firsts” this year, including…
– photographed Burrowing Owl

– photographed Dall Sheep

– photographed Bobcat (at quite a distance, but still a first for me)

– photographed Orca and Humpback Whale

– watched a Black Bear hunt Dall Sheep on steep cliffs (no photo of the chase, but really cool to see)

– photographed Arctic Tern and other birds of Alaska

– watched & photographed a Wolf feeding on a Caribou carcass (at quite a distance as well, but still a first for me)

– had a close encounter alone with a Grizzly Bear (again, no photo of the action, happened too fast)

– “howled in” a Wolf

Happy New Year!

Be Bear Aware When Camping

courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife

Memorial Day Weekend marks the traditional start to the camping season, and the Colorado Division of Wildlife reminds campers to be “bear aware” when enjoying the outdoors.

The most important tip for all campers is to keep a clean campsite to avoid attracting bears or other wildlife.

Bears go into campgrounds because food is often available around tents, camp trailers and dumpsters. The potential for conflicts increases when food brings bears and humans into close contact.

“Bears are built to eat and their sense of smell is incredible,” explained Ron Dobson, a district wildlife manager in the Salida area. “They can smell food from miles away, they’ll travel to find it and that’s when they get into trouble.”

In a natural setting, bears would just as soon avoid people, but bears that learn to associate humans with food begin to lose their natural fear of people. “Food conditioned” bears can become aggressive and often end up being euthanized.

Dobson says black bears are not naturally aggressive toward humans, but are actually very shy creatures.

“However, bears are on a mission to find food,” he explained. “Campers need to take precautions to avoid problems for themselves, for nearby campers and the next people who use the same camp site.”

He suggests campers never leave food or garbage behind and always pack out their trash.

Here are a few other tips for campers in bear country:
* Keep a clean site and clean up thoroughly after every meal;
* After grilling, allow the fire to completely burn food scraps and grease off the grill.
* Do not eat in your tent or keep food or items that smell of food in your tent;
* Store unused food and garbage in secure containers out of the reach of bears and away from your sleeping area;
* Secure pet food as you would human food.
* Don’t leave food that would attract birds or any wildlife in campgrounds. If you see others in the campground feeding wildlife, contact the campground host.
* If you see a bear in a campground, report it to the local DOW office as soon as possible.
* If you come in close contact with a bear, talk to it firmly and make yourself look as large as possible. Back away slowly, but do not run.
* Teach children and others who might be unfamiliar with bears about bear safety.

For more information about camping in bear country, go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/Mammals/HikeCampBearCountry.htm.
Additional information about coexisting with bears can be found at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/.

Mountain Lion Charges Girls in Wheat Ridge, Colorado

courtesy of the Denver Post

A mountain lion charged two young girls and their dog as they walked West 44th Avenue and Robb Street near Prospect Park this morning, Wheat Ridge police said.

The girls were in a wooded area near the park, and there were no injuries, but authorities are telling residents to stay out of the park until further notice.

Wheat Ridge police and community services officers, as well as Division of Wildlife officers, tried unsuccessfully today to track down the animal.

Small children, dogs and cats in the area should be kept indoors, Wheat Ridge said in a media release.

Police advised anyone who encounters a mountain lion not to approach it, make a lot of noise but stay calm, and back away slowly.

Coyote Attack in Aspen Prompts DOW Warning

courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife

A pack of coyotes attacked and killed a pet dog in Aspen Friday afternoon, prompting the Colorado Division of Wildlife to remind residents to take precautions in areas where conflicts with wildlife are possible.

An Aspen resident said she and her dog were on a hiking trail on Smuggler Mountain when the attack occurred. The woman reported that she was walking her six-month old Labradoodle in an area where it is legal for pets to roam off-leash when one or more coyotes attacked the puppy after it apparently approached them in a playful manner.

“This is a very unfortunate incident and I feel very badly for this lady,” said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. “It is also a sad reminder that pet owners need to keep their pets on a leash and take precautions whenever they walk their pets in areas where they could encounter wildlife.”

Although coyotes are typically shy and reclusive, they are also intelligent creatures that learn to adapt to changing conditions in their surroundings. As Colorado’s growing population continues to encroach on coyote habitat, coyotes can lose their fear of people. Once that happens, coyotes can learn to target pets as prey items and in rare cases, become aggressive in the presence of people.

Division officials also caution that at this time of the year, many coyotes are rearing their young and can be especially aggressive and territorial.

Continue reading “Coyote Attack in Aspen Prompts DOW Warning”

To Shoot, or Not to Shoot, at Rocky Mountain National Park

courtesy of High Country News
by Larry Keller

The elk of Rocky Mountain National Park are wildlife’s couch potatoes. Rather than roam widely throughout the 415-square-mile park and the land outside it, they are content to laze around in meadows, eating, sleeping and mating.

With no predators, they can afford to be slackers. Many of them saunter into the tourist town of Estes Park outside the eastern entrance. There, they mosey along city streets and loiter on golf courses.

Their inertia has created problems in the park, however. Aspen and willow stands are denuded where the elk do much of their grazing. That habitat is vital to a variety of birds and butterflies, park officials say. The damage has also driven out most of the beavers that once populated the area, which in turn has caused a nearly 70-percent decline in surface water that helps nourish the very habitat being damaged.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Despite Snow, Bears Waking up, Looking for Food

courtesy of 9news.com
by Jeffrey Wolf and Matt Renoux

With the mountains getting hit with another April snow storm this weekend, Colorado Division of Wildlife officers like Shannon Schwab say they are seeing bears become more active.

That is because the natural food bears eat is now covered under several feet of snow at a time when that snow should be melting.

“We are seeing what looks like and feels like winter still, but wildlife is waking up and having babies and they are ready to begin their spring functions,” Schwab said.

With natural food covered, bears are looking to easier items like trash, grills, or bird feeders. Recently, DOW officers were called to a home in Breckenridge for a bear that got stuck in a garage looking for food.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Lawmakers Consider Flexible Colorado Bear Hunt

courtesy of 9news.com
by Blair Shiff

Bears beware – Colorado lawmakers worried about the animals’ growing population are talking about giving wildlife officials more say over when bears can be hunted.

A proposal set for its first hearing Monday would repeal a 1992 voter-approved initiative that prohibits hunting bears from March 1 to Sept. 1 and give the state Division of Wildlife authority to expand hunting dates.

Voters overwhelmingly approved the initiative amid concern that female bears were being hunted in the spring, when they are taking care of their cubs. The initiative also banned hunting bears with dogs and baiting bears with food to kill them. The bill sponsored by Rep. J. Paul Brown would not eliminate those provisions.

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Legislators: Scared of Bears

courtesy of The Huffington Post
by Wendy Keefover-Ring

In 1992, 70% of Colorado voters passed Proposition 10, the citizen-led initiative that banned bear hunting in springtime. It also banned the use of dog packs that some used to chase down bears — so they could be cornered and shot at a convenient distance.

Hunting mother bears in springtime orphans their cubs. Bear cubs depend on their mothers for about 17 months. In other words, if one shoots the mom, the shooter will also indirectly kill the babes — likely all three of them.

Colorado legislators have signaled they’d like a bear slaughter. House Bill 11-1294 puts a bull’s eye on female bears and their cubs, and crushes the will of 70% of Coloradoan voters. Simply put: this bill is bad for bears and voters.

Who would allow some hunters to hunt nursing mother bears and leave their cubs orphaned and starving?

Twenty Republicans — led by J. Paul Brown — and lone Democrat Wes “Cowboy” McKinley.

Seventy percent of Coloradans voted to protect mother bears and their cubs. Their voices will be relegated to the past if this bill passes.

Click here to read the rest of the story

Give Young Wildlife the Space it Needs

courtesy of the Colorado Division of Wildlife
by the Colorado Division of Wildlife

Spring has arrived in Colorado and it won’t be long before newly born wildlife take their first awkward steps, sometimes near watchful people. The Colorado Division of Wildlife is reminding the public that the well-intentioned impulse to save what appears to be an orphaned or abandoned animal can often lead to unintended consequences, including the death of the animal.

For many people, a common reaction when they see young wildlife that appears to be abandoned is to treat it as they would a human baby and attempt its rescue. Giving human characteristics to animals is known as anthropomorphism. The concept is often seen in popular children’s books and movies. Division officials warn that projecting human behavior onto young wildlife often does more harm than good.

“A human baby that has been abandoned is a crisis that needs immediate attention, but this is not the case with baby animals,” said Watchable Wildlife and Volunteer Coordinator Trina Romero. “In fact, the instinct that leads a female animal to leave its offspring alone for long periods of time is a natural method of protection. The last thing it needs is human intervention.”

Deer are a common example. A fawn that stumbles about weakly while learning to walk will attract predators, so evolution has provided effective methods of protection. Newborn fawns are naturally well camouflaged, don’t emit odors that attract predators and can lie very still for a long time. As a result, they are actually safer if their mothers leave them on their own. Even a curious person watching the fawn from a distance could alert predators to the animal’s presence and prevent its mother from returning.

But in the rare case that the young animal’s mother has been hurt or killed there are some steps you can take to protect its orphaned offspring. If the mother of a young animal does not return for more than twelve hours, or it is obvious that it has been hurt or killed, it’s best to report its location to the Division of Wildlife.

“People who pick up animals risk injuring the animal or making it too comfortable with humans to be returned to the wild,” added Romero. “By leaving the animal alone and reporting its location to the Division of Wildlife, our trained personnel or volunteers can respond and make the determination about what is best for the animal.”

Many orphaned animals are taken to licensed wildlife rehabilitators who work hard to make sure the animal can be reintroduced to the wild. However, even rehabilitation has risks, with only a minority of rehabilitated animals being able to return to a full life in the wild. In some cases, it may be better for young animals to fend for themselves in their natural habitat.

“Every case is different, so it’s best to let trained wildlife staff and volunteers respond and make a determination,” Romero said. “Once a human intervenes, the choices for the animal’s future become more limited.”

Continue reading “Give Young Wildlife the Space it Needs”

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