Environment briefs: Breckenridge’s mountain cleanup, bear awareness and baby animals
BRAS, PANTIES AND SKIS, OH MY!
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Vail Resorts Echo and the Forest Service invite the public to Breck’s annual Mountain Cleanup Day on Thursday, June 26, at the Peak 8 base area.
Volunteers should meet at 9 a.m. on the patio at the Ski Hill Grill to pick up trash bags, receive directions to specific cleanup sites and sign waivers.
The resort will provide volunteers with free barbecue from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Ski Hill Grill. Volunteers will also receive a summer activity voucher good for a ride on the Alpine Slide or Gold Runner Coaster at the Breckenridge Summer Fun Park and valid until Sept. 1.
Spokeswoman Kristen Petitt Stewart said the resort tries to reunite lost items — which sometimes include expensive watches, rings, phones, cameras and wallets — with their owners.
Besides skiing and snowboarding gear and historic artifacts from the mining era, she said people often find beads, bras and underwear.
Parking is available in the North Gondola Lot, and buses will run to the base of Peak 8 starting at 8:30 a.m. Volunteers should bring water, sun block, sunglasses, a hat, snacks, gloves, sturdy hiking boots and layers to prepare for unpredictable weather.
The resort also is having a food drive and will accept canned food items for the Family and Intercultural Resource Center.
BE BEAR AWARE
Every year, dozens of Colorado bears must be relocated or euthanized because of conflicts with humans.
The state has a two-strike policy for bears, which are searching for food and are drawn to towns, residences and campgrounds at this time of year.
The first time a bear becomes persistent in its search for food near humans, it is trapped, tagged and taken to a remote area to be released.
If the bear gets in trouble again, it is killed. Sometimes, if a bear shows very aggressive behavior on a first encounter it can be euthanized.
“Destroying a bear is never an easy decision for a wildlife officer,” said Abbie Walls, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the southeast region. “But human health and safety is always our No. 1 priority.”
Bears are not usually aggressive toward people, but may become so if food is present. Never approach a bear. If you see one, encourage it to leave by yelling, throwing rocks or spraying water at it from a safe distance. If food continues to be present, it likely will return.
Follow these tips to help keep bears out of trouble:
✔ Keep garbage in a well-secured location and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup.
✔ Clean garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free.
✔ If you don’t have secure storage, put items that might become smelly into the freezer until trash day.
✔ Don’t leave pet food or stock feed outside.
✔ Bird feeders should be brought in at this time of year — birds don’t need to be fed during the summer.
✔ If you have bird feeders, clean up beneath them, bring them in at night and hang them high so they’re inaccessible.
✔ Secure compost piles. Bears are attracted to the scent of rotting food and they’ll eat anything.
✔ Allow grills to burn for a couple of minutes after cooking to burn off grease and to eliminate odors. Clean the grill after each use.
✔ Clean up thoroughly after picnics in the yard or on the deck. Don’t allow food odors to linger.
✔ If you have fruit trees, pick fruit before it gets too ripe. Don’t allow fruit to rot on the ground.
✔ Keep the bottom-floor windows of your house closed when you’re not home.
✔ Do not keep food in your car and lock the doors.
DON’T TOUCH THE BABIES
After children chased a moose calf into a hotel lobby in Vail two weeks ago, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer picked up the baby animal and brought it to a facility in Fort Collins.
This is the time of year when wild animals give birth to their young and officials ask the public not to approach, touch or handle young animals.
“We know that people are trying to be helpful, but the young animals are best cared for by their own parents,” said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “The best thing people can do is to leave young wildlife alone.”
During spring and early summer, people often see young animals alone in the forest, in backyards, on or near trails or along the sides of roads.
“The animals have not been abandoned,” he said. “Young animals are often left alone to allow the mother to feed, to help them avoid predators and to learn how to live in the wild.”
If you see deer fawns or elk or moose calves alone, move away quickly and don’t attempt to get the animal to move. Young birds often fall out of their nests or are pushed out of nests by parents to encourage them to fly.
“If a young bird is on the ground it will quickly learn to fly. So let nature take its course,” he said.
If you think a bird may be stepped on or easily found by a dog, pick it up and move it a short distance to cover.
Remember to keep pets under control. Dogs acting on their instincts can find animals and attack them. The stress of being attacked often is fatal for young animals. In neighborhoods and backyards, cats are adept at finding eggs and young birds.
“Many studies show that cats are damaging the songbird population. Please, don’t let your cat roam free,” DelPiccolo said.
Cat owners can place a small bell on the cat’s collar, and the sound will alert small animals.
Don’t give food to wildlife. They also become habituated to humans and will stay in residential areas instead of natural lands, and animals bunched up in small areas are more vulnerable to diseases and predators.
Understand that not all newborn animals will survive.
If you have any questions, call the nearest Colorado Parks and Wildlife office or visit cpw.state.co.us.
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