Nederland police using beanbag rounds to move wildlife out of town

NEDERLAND, Colo. -- To curb a growing wildlife problem, police in Nederland will be using beanbag ammunition to push large animals out of the town.

According to town marshal Paul Carrill, the police force only has vehicle sirens and lights, tasers, and spray to nonlethally remove wildlife from the town.

However, they felt the nonlethal beanbags would help them keep animals such as moose or bears from becoming comfortable around humans.

“Wild animals are not domesticated," Carrill said. "So they’re going to do what’s in the best interest for their survival. So you get between them and their food source, them and their young, they’re going to respond accordingly.”

In the past two years, the town has had 48 incidents of animals. To keep interactions low, police officers will shoot the animals with the beanbags, which hurts about five to 10 times more than a punch, according to Carrill.

“They travel at approximately 280 feet per second. A professional baseball is about 5 ounces and travels 140 feet per second,” Carrill said.

He said the pain caused by the rounds will change the animals' behavior, making them more afraid of humans.

Rachelle Washburn was visiting Nederland from Estes Park on Wednesday. She said anything to keep the animals and people apart is a good thing.

"We have a lot of tourists that think they’re pets and it’s appropriate to get up close to animals,” she said. “We had an incident last summer, a tourist wanted to get a picture of an elk and kept getting closer and closer and got gored by the elk.”

Carrill said the decision to use beanbags was based on other successful programs throughout the state, including in the Boulder Police Department and Colorado Parks and Wildlife.