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Denver using 'raptor poles' to control wildlife

Published on NewsOK Published: December 1, 2012

"I'm taking this on. It's a safety issue," Gilmore said, noting that prairie dogs can spread disease, including plague, to pets. "In parks like what we have in Denver, there's no easy way to coexist with prairie dogs when we have kids and pets in the area."

Other experiments in managing urban wildlife target coyotes.

Nearly 30 have been collared recently in a federal-government-run tracking project to develop "hazing" methods that could help keep urban coyotes wild.

Coyote conflicts with pets and people — 16 bites reported in four years around metro Denver — prompted the project. Coyotes are hassled using air horns, pop cans filled with coins and bright lights in attempts to condition bolder coyotes to use parks but avoid people.

Colorado wildlife officials increasingly receive calls from urban residents reporting sightings and conflicts with wildlife. They're unable to dispatch biologists unless an animal is sick or injured. They encourage city officials to develop local plans for how best to protect people and also help animals, said Liza Hunholz, Denver-area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Historically, wildlife conflicts in Colorado have been handled by homeowners. State law, rooted in rural traditions, lets property owners kill coyotes, skunks, raccoons and foxes at any time of year without a hunting license if the animal is causing damage.

But options for urban residents to take action are limited.

Yet urban landscaping for better recreation favors more wildlife, Hunholz said.

"If a piece of habitat is contiguous to another one, or connected in some way, it tends to have more value for different wildlife species," she said. "It gives them more room to move, more habitat features, and the ability to find more habitat."