(CBS4) – Coloradans are now working and going to school from home, meaning they’re often taking breaks to get outdoors and get some fresh air. As more hit the local trails and open spaces, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials say they can expect to encounter more wildlife in areas where they normally might not see them.
With more people crowding trails and other areas becoming quieter, it’s likely that animals will shift where they gather.
“As we continue to slow down or avoid certain areas, it’s absolutely logical that wildlife could use those spaces if it provides everything that they need from food, shelter and water,” explained Jason Clay with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
For example, last week neighbors in Golden saw a large herd of elk on the Golden High School football field, which would normally be filled with young adults and athletes.
“They just came down through the neighborhood and they were hanging out on the football field,” said Bryce Deshayzer, who lives in Golden. “It was really neat to see.”
CPW said overall, the stay-at-home order in Colorado is not impacting wildlife behavior.
“It would take a long time,” Clay explained. “It could be years for it to truly impact the behavior of wildlife, and this is relatively a short-term situation.”
However as more people hit the trails as a way to get exercise and get out of their homes, wildlife officials want to remind people to admire wildlife from a distance.
“The big thing here is not to disrupt their behavior,” Clay said. “Keep a safe distance for both you and whatever that animal you come across is.
That is a reminder to not get too close or touch wild animals, even if you come across them in an urban setting. CPW has recently seen elk, deer and bobcats in different areas of the Denver metro area.
Clay said another big concern is that springtime is baby season for wildlife. He said if hikers come across a newborn or young animal that’s alone, leave it be.
“It’s not unusual for newborns to be left alone while the parent goes to search for food,” Clay said. “Don’t unnecessarily orphan a newborn animal because you don’t see them right there.”
Colorado Parks and Wildlife have many resources online to help families identify and learn about different animals in the area. You can find more information at cpw.state.co.us.