Give wildlife a holiday treat by protecting them with your decorations | Wildlife Matters | North Springs Edition


Driving around town on vacation is always a joyful time. Colorful, twinkling lights adorn the houses and trees. Garlands and ribbons hang from the porch railings. Inflatable Santa Claus and reindeer are attached in the front yards.

And while lights are great for boosting the morale of humans, they are a negative point for our wildlife neighbors.

They represent a serious potential danger to animals.

This ranges from a dreadful annoyance to mule deer when they mistakenly find themselves with red and green lights on their antlers to a threat when they restrict an animal’s movement, eat, or even vision, leaving it vulnerable to harm. oncoming traffic, predators and more. .

It is not just a phenomenon of the holiday season. Deer get stuck in human gear all year round, including tomato cages, hammocks, football nets, and fences, to name a few.

Holidays are the worst. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that when we start decorating for the holidays, the males start the rut – the mating season. Meanwhile, the males rub their antlers against trees and bushes in preparation for fighting other males. When a male rubs his antlers on a decorated bush, fairy lights unfurl and stick to the antlers.

The result? The male runs off with your Christmas decorations, leaving you wondering if the neighborhood juvenile delinquent has struck again.

Sometimes the fairy lights, or the garland, is just on the antlers. If so, we’ll let him do it and let him show off his holiday spirit. Males will drop their antlers over the next couple of months and the fairy lights will not be harmful by staying on until then.

If the male has a long string of lights behind, but he’s still movable, we’ll let him do that unless the lights get stuck on something. We will not calm animals that are still very mobile. It is very stressful, and sometimes fatal, for the animal to be tranquilized. We therefore only intervene if we are absolutely obliged to do so.

When do we intervene? A perfect example was last year when a male in the Broadmoor neighborhood had Christmas lights wrapped around his muzzle and even inside his mouth, preventing him from eating normally. It was a deadly problem.

We will also come to untangle a deer, if it is unable to move freely. For example, if the tangled lights are still attached to a pole, prevent the male from moving.

If you see a deer wrapped in decorations, please give us a call. It may be tempting to try and help the male yourself, but they are wild animals and are dangerous, especially during the rut and stressed by unwanted surroundings.

You can help us by taking a photo of the deer, from a safe distance. We are often able to tell if we need to intervene from the photos you send us.

Here are some other tips you can follow to prevent wildlife from tangling in your holiday decorations:

  • Wrap the decorations as tightly as possible around poles and trees.
  • If you are wrapping lights around trees, place them more than six feet from the ground and secure the ends securely.
  • Do not drape lights over bushes or trees.
  • Firmly attach all decorations attached to a house or building.
  • When not in use, bring indoors: hammocks, soccer / volleyball nets, swings, tomato cages, and other items that deer commonly get stuck in.

Cassidy English is District Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


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