Breck’s Wildlife Springing Into Action
Be aware of how to handle yourself around Breck’s animals
Spring is a fragile time for local wildlife, and respecting trail closures and wilderness area regulations is crucial, not just for the welfare of the wildlife but for your own back, too.
Breckenridge is home to an eclectic array of wildlife, ranging from black bear to humming bird, mountain lion to boreal toad. It’s not at all uncommon to see a family of foxes slinking through town or a coyote crossing the road or trail this time of year. It’s exciting to spot an animal, but there are some key guidelines to follow, particularly when enjoying the outdoors in the spring and summer.
“We’re loving the state to death, so part of that is the number of users on our trails. Everyone wants to be outdoors,” points out Perry Will, Colorado Department of Wildlife Area Manager. “That’s great, but there’s an impact and a cost to it.”
If we must be outside (and let’s face it … we must), we need to make the lightest possible impact, this means …
– Don’t feed the wildlife
Under no circumstances should you feed a wild animal in Breckenridge, whether it’s a squirrel or a mountain goat. Not only is there a real danger of getting bitten (even chipmunks have sharp teeth and can carry rabies) or stalked by animals interested in your food once they have had a taste, but human food is unhealthy for wildlife and can prevent certain species from foraging for themselves.
– Keep your dog on a leash or at home
On most trails around Breckenridge, dogs must be on a leash and in some places – in Cucumber Gulch Wildlife Preserve – they are not allowed. Cucumber Gulch is home to large, potentially dangerous animals such as moose, mountain lion and porcupine, so it’s best to keep at home.
– Pay attention to area closures and keep out of closed areas
Cucumber Gulch is closed in the spring due to elk and moose calving, bird nesting and other types of wildlife activities. At every trailhead, there are signs posted when trails are closed, so be sure to read the signs and adhere to them.
How to behave if you come into close proximity with wildlife
As a general rule, you should keep your distance and move quietly and slowly if you see any type of wildlife. Never try to get too close or touch an animal.
If you see a bear …
Black bears are not aggressive like grizzlies (which we don’t have in Breck or anywhere else in Colorado) and are usually more afraid of you than you are of them. They are very smart, however. If you see one, stand still and talk in a normal voice. DON’T RUN or climb a tree (black bears can climb trees better than you). Keep an eye on the bear and slowly step away, ensuring that it has an escape route.
If you see a mountain lion …
Stay calm and talk firmly, making eye contact. Make yourself look as large as possible, this means holding up a backpack, hiking poles or a bike or flapping your jacket open. DON’T RUN but step or back away slowly.
If you see a moose …
Moose are arguably the most dangerous and unpredictable wild animal in Breckenridge and are even more so when they have young at their side, which they often do in the spring time. DO NOT move closer if you see a moose and never throw anything at them or get between a mother and her calf. If you are close to a moose, make sure it has a way to get away from you. If a moose charges you, this is the time to run. Get behind a tree or climb one, or put something solid between you and the moose.
We love all the creatures who call Breck home and are thankful to be able to share this space. Remember these tips so we can all co habit in a safe manner.