Coexistence with Wildlife Policy
On August 24, 2010, Broomfield City Council adopted the Coexistence with Wildlife Policy.
This policy was drafted to do the following:
- To increase the community’s knowledge and understanding of how to safely live with wildlife;
- To foster an appreciation and enjoyment of local wildlife; and
- To develop guidelines for response to conflicts with wildlife.
Wildlife and Environmental Clearance Letter Required
Prior to development or construction on land in Broomfield, a 20-day wildlife and environmental clearance letter is required and must be approved by Broomfield staff. The purpose of this letter is to confirm that any environmental or wildlife concerns on the site have been reviewed and addressed prior to construction activities on the land. Please review a more detailed description of the 20-day clearance letter here.
Those Plentiful Rabbits
It seems like there are more rabbits than ever in neighborhoods throughout the Denver metro area. The reason behind the increase is not clear. In Broomfield, Open Space staff feel that one factor could be that about three or four years ago, some of Broomfield's foxes came down with mange, a skin disease caused by mites. Serious cases of mange thinned out the fox population, and foxes are a major rabbit predator.
When summer gets hotter and drier, some of the rabbits' favorite areas tend to be neighborhood lawns and landscaped areas. Landscaping provides a real smorgasbord of tasty treats—tree roots, lawns, and summertime flowers.
Rabbits can sometimes chew grass down to the roots, causing bare spots, and eat many seedlings, flowers, and shrubs that homeowners have planted to beautify their landscape.
Residents should consider making landscaping adjustments if they want to keep the rabbits out of their yards. If there is evidence of rabbits around your home, modifications can reduce the opportunities for rabbits to take up residence. Autumn is the best time to make changes as the babies are out of the nest by then. Try these methods of reducing rabbit attraction:
- Minimize the number of areas that offer safe havens for the rabbits, such as piles of leaves and twigs, shrubs that offer shade, and sheds. Also insure that patios do not have voids underneath where the rabbits can den.
- Trim bushes and trees to minimize areas that might be used as a shelter.
- Use 'rabbit-resistant' plants in your landscape. View this Rabbit Reference Card for information.
- Use chicken wire guards around decks and young plants in gardens, and on fences, embedding the wire in the ground about two inches deep. Guards should be 18 to 24 inches tall and encircle plants far enough outward to prevent rabbits from reaching through to the plant. Bury guards at least two inches deep and stake into the ground.
- Ammonia does not work to deter rabbits, but they do not like the smell of eggs. Mix one egg with 1.5 cups of water and pour it over patches of grass suffering from rabbit damage. This must be reapplied every few days.
- A natural rabbit repellent spray can be made from a mix of onions, jalapeno peppers, and cayenne pepper. Combine a chopped onion, a chopped jalapeno pepper, and a tablespoon of cayenne pepper. Boil mixture for 20 minutes in two quarts of water. Let mixture cool and strain. Apply to landscaping with a spray bottle. Reapply every three to five days.
Organic repellents also can be purchased at hardware and garden shops. More information on Rabbit Repellents.
In the case of rabbits, CPW statute permits property owners to trap but has regulations that apply to this process. This solution is not recommended as more rabbits typically move back into the area that has been trapped. However, if this process is used, compliance with the applicable CPW regulations and permits is required. CPW should be contacted to find out the latest requirements. However, be aware that Broomfield Municipal Code prohibits the discharge of weapons in this circumstance.
Skunks live in dens. They either create one themselves by digging, or they take over an existing den that they find. Porches provide an attractive denning area to skunks and other species of wildlife because they are safe, stable structures for them. Skunks will also choose a denning location based on food and water availability. For these reasons, a skunk may choose to use your porch or deck as a shelter!
|Skunks cannot be relocated—anywhere! For a skunk living under a structure, it is best to evict it outside of the breeding season (before March or after August). Then, install fencing that extends one to two feet below ground to seal openings.|
More information on skunks in Broomfield can be found on this Skunk Reference Card.
Reasons to not relocate wildlife outside of designated relocation areas:
- The spread of wildlife diseases. Moving animals randomly around the landscape will increase the chances of introducing diseases into uninfected populations. You cannot tell if an animal is sick just by looking at it. An animal that may appear to be healthy may carry any number of diseases that can be transmitted to others of the same species, other susceptible species, or domestic animals. Traps and cages used to capture or transport animals can become contaminated by disease organisms creating potential exposure risks to humans and pets.
- It is likely that there are already individuals of the same species living in the area. A newly introduced animal must compete for resources such as food and shelter that the current residents are utilizing. Many wildlife species are territorial and will defend their territories against others. Animals without established territories are at a strong disadvantage and are unlikely to survive.
- Relocated animals will try to return. Faced with unfamiliar surroundings, competition for limited resources, and possibly having been separated from their families, relocated animals will often attempt to return to their former habitat. Most will not survive the journey as they attempt to cross roads or are taken by predators.
- Relocation alone does not solve your problem. Unless you take appropriate steps such as removing food sources or sealing off entryways into or under structures, it is only a matter of time before some other animal moves in to take the past occupants’ place. Pet food dishes left outside, garbage, compost piles, and bird feeders are all food sources. Sheds elevated on blocks, porches, and uncapped chimneys provide potential shelters.
The Wildlife Masters are here to help! The Broomfield Wildlife Masters are local residents that volunteer their time to answer questions about wildlife. You can reach them by calling 303.464.5554. Additionally, you can find information online at Broomfield Wildlife Masters.
In Colorado, rattlesnakes leave hibernation as early as mid-March and can sometimes be seen on our trails and open spaces April through September. Depending on weather and threatening conditions such as wildfires, rattlesnakes may roam at any time of the day or night. If walking at night, be sure to use a flashlight.
Rattlesnakes are the only venomous snake found in this area, and they are an important part of our ecosystem. They help control rodent populations are a source of prey for hawks and eagles. Bullsnakes can also be found in Broomfield. Some tips on how to tell bullsnakes and rattlesnakes apart are listed below. Also take a look at this informative Snake Poster.
Follow these guidelines to help us keep people, pets, and snakes safe in Broomfield:
- Wear closed toed shoes.
- Stay on designated trails.
- Keep dogs on leash at all times.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
- Remain calm, do not make any sudden movements.
- Stop walking and determine the snake’s location.
- Slowly back away from the snake.
- Give the snake time and space to move along on its own.
- If the snake does not move on, leave the area and choose another path to explore.
If you come across a snake, the best advice is simply to leave it alone! Picking up or harassing snakes are the most common causes of snake bites. If a bite does occur: call 911, keep the victim calm and still, and apply basic first aid until professional help arrives:
- Have the victim lay or sit down with the bite wound below the heart.
- Remove any rings, watches, etc. that could constrict swelling.
- Wash the bite with soap and water and apply a clean bandage.
- NEVER apply a tourniquet, slice the bite open, ice the wound, or attempt to suck out the venom.
Other Snake Safety Information:
- Wear appropriate over-the-ankle hiking boots, thick socks, and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.
- Avoid tall grass, weeds, and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.
- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark.
- If a fallen tree or large rock is in your path, step up onto it instead of over it, as there might be a snake on the other side.
- Do not turn over rocks or logs. If you must move a rock or log, use gloves and roll it toward you, giving anything beneath it the opportunity to escape in the opposite direction.
- Avoid approaching any snake you cannot positively identify as a safe species.
- Remember rattlesnakes do not always rattle before they strike!
- Broad, triangular head
- Tail does not reach a narrow point
- Rattle on tail
- Relatively heavy or “fat” body
- Narrow head, barely distinguishable from the neck
- Tail reaches a narrow point
- No rattle on tail
- Relatively narrow body
What are those funny cracks in my yard?
By Wildlife Master, Sheri Hoffman
Do you have voles in your yard? You’ll know if you see damage in the lawn or to small trees and shrubs that is new and unusual.
What’s a vole?
Voles are small mammals, usually dark in color, about four to eight inches in length. They have blunt faces and very small eyes and ears. There are eight species of voles in Colorado and they are also known as meadow mice.
Typically, voles construct tunnels one to two inches wide that will travel out from under a bush into the yard. They use these runways or tunnels as a pathway to food—especially under the snow. Voles cause damage to seedlings and small shrubs by girdling the trunk and eating the bark.
Along the Front Range, Meadow Voles tend to live in or near damp, marshy areas, wet meadows or lawns. They eat a variety of grasses and bark, and are especially active during the fall and winter.
Typical Vole Runways
There are several methods used to reduce vole damage and population, including habitat management, exclusion, and repellents.
Habitat management involves close mowing and weed control in grassy borders next to open space or in a yard. Voles avoid exposed areas, so close mowing of the lawn in the fall, raking and repairing runway damage will disrupt their activities. Then, water and fertilize the runway area to keep the voles away.
Voles may also take up residence near bird feeders, an easy food supply all year round. By picking up fallen bird seed and using feeders that contain the seed well, this attractant can be eliminated.
To prevent voles from gnawing on trees and shrubs, encircle the plants with quarter-inch mesh hardwire cloth or a three-inch diameter Vexar plastic mesh cylinder. These items should be buried three to six inches below the surface and extend about 18 inches above ground. Note, however, that there are no foolproof methods to exclude voles from a lawn.
Only a few repellents are known to protect trees and shrubs from vole damage. Look for repellents that contain the ingredient thiram or capsaicin. A 20 percent solution of raw chicken eggs and water is also an effective repellent. Spread or spray this solution in their runways or where vole activity is seen. This solution will last three to five days, weather permitting.
For more information about voles, call the Broomfield Wildlife Masters Hotline at 303.464.5554.
Why are Woodpeckers banging on my house?
By Sheri Hoffman, Broomfield Wildlife Master
The Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus) is a woodpecker that is 7” to 15” in length with brown, barred back and black spotted under-parts. You will probably hear it drumming on gutters, metal pipes, or siding. The drumming starts in early spring and usually ends by July 1. Drumming is most frequent in early morning and late afternoon. Woodpeckers drum to establish territory, locate a mate, search for insects, or excavate a nest site. Cedar or redwood siding, gutters, or roof vent pipes produce loud sounds and are preferred by the flicker. Damage can be done to stucco, plywood, Masonite, cedar, rough pine, and redwood siding.
Flickers have a distinctive black crescent bib and a long black bill, short legs, a stiff tail, and sharp-clawed toes. Males have a red mustache located under each eye. Northern Flickers are easily identified during flight by the orange tint under their wings and a white rump patch. Most woodpeckers eat insects, berries, tree sap, and vegetable matter.
Controlling flicker damage occurs by exclusion, scare devices, preventative construction, or a combination of all three. A form of exclusion would be to attach cloth or plastic netting at an angle, from the eaves to the siding, below the damaged area. Hooks or dowels can be used for this attachment.
Scare devices include hawk silhouettes, mirrors, plastic strips, and pinwheels. The hawk silhouette can be made of cardboard and should have a wingspan of at least 22” and length of 11”. The silhouette should be painted a dark color and hung from the eaves or attached to the siding at the damaged area. It is best to place a silhouette on each side of the damaged area. Shaving or cosmetic mirrors located at the damaged site work to enlarge the image and frighten the woodpecker. Plastic strips (possibly cut from a garbage bag) should be approximately 1” wide and 2’ to 3’ long. Pinwheels should be 12” in diameter. Both the plastic strips and the pinwheel should be placed at the damaged spot.
Preventative construction includes prompt repair of woodpecker holes. Cover the drilled area with aluminum flashing, tin can tops, or metal sheathing. Be sure to paint the metal to match the siding.
Few chemicals are effective repellents for woodpeckers. Sticky bird repellents (Tanglefoot R or Roost-No-More R) applied to the damaged area may repel the woodpecker but may also stain the siding in hot weather.
All North American woodpeckers are cavity nesters. Noting this, another solution would be to place a nest box on the home at or near the damaged area. Nest boxes are worth trying when all other methods fail.
For more information about flickers, call the Broomfield Wildlife Masters Hotline at 303.464.5554.
Pets are Part of the Family
Wildlife exists throughout Broomfield, even in residential neighborhoods. Unattended pets can be seen as prey or "fair game." Those coyotes, foxes, owls, hawks, and eagles don't discern between a cute, cuddly pet...and prey!
To avoid conflicts between wildlife and pets, here are some pointers:
- Keep cats indoors.
- Always supervise your pet outside. Do not leave your pet unattended in your yard.
- Keep dogs on leash.
- Avoid known or potential den sites and areas of thick vegetation.
- Do not allow dogs to "play" with coyotes or foxes.
- Do not leave pet food and water bowls outside.
Please be reminded that the Broomfield Municipal Code includes this language regarding pets off leash:
Broomfield Municipal Code - 6-12-010 Running at large prohibited.
It is unlawful for any person owning or having charge of any animal, except an ordinary domesticated house cat and except for dogs used by the city for public health or public safety purposes, to permit the animal to run at large within the city. (233 Art. V §1, 1975; Ord. 993 §3, 1993; Ord. 1696 §1, 2002) For additional information, call 303.438.6216.
- Colorado Parks and Wildlife 303.291.7227
- Broomfield Wildlife Masters 303.464.5554
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