DENVER (KDVR) — Decorating your home with spooky ghosts and lit-up cardboard headstones may draw kids to come knocking for treats, but it could also mean wildlife gets stuck in your display.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reminding residents around the state to take precautions with their outdoor decorations and recreation set-ups after several deer recently had to be freed from entanglement.
CPW’s latest antler rescues
A mule deer got its antlers caught up in a cage for a tomato plant in Durango which ended up swinging around in front of the deer’s mouth restricting it from eating or drinking. CPW officers had to tranquilize the animal and remove the wiring.
Another deer got a plastic ring stuck on its hoof and wildlife officers had to tranquilize it and remove the obstruction in Woodland Park.
Two other mule deer were found with Halloween decorations around their antlers, prompting wildlife officers to warn residents before the holiday to take heed when putting objects on their lawns and porches.
Dangers to elk, moose and deer
The most typical items animals with antlers get caught up in are volleyball nets, hammocks and holiday lights.
A few things to be aware of when decorating your home or utilizing outdoor equipment if you live close to wildlife are:
- put away summer recreational equipment that is not in use
- any outdoor netting should come down when not in use
- make sure any holiday lights and decorations are wrapped tightly wherever they are strung
“Right now is a good opportunity to clean up your yard and to remove items a curious animal might stick its nose in or get wrapped up in,” CPW Assistant Area Wildlife Manager Steve McClung out of the Durango office said. “We see animals get wrapped up in netting, landscaping materials and holiday decorations all the time, and it can impair their mobility, vision and ability to eat and drink.”
As the holiday season is approaching, CPW said to hang lights and other dangling decorations tightly and higher than six feet.
How to help a distressed, restricted animal
When these animals get entangled, the physical stress of them trying to get free can be damaging and dangerous for anyone trying to help and the animals themselves, CPW said.
If reported quickly enough, wildlife officers can work to free the animal and keep it from harm. Other more severe instances may require the removal of antlers but some situations are simple enough to just take the obstruction off the animal without any issues.
If you see an animal entangled, CPW asks you to call your local office or Colorado State Patrol if it is outside of normal business hours.
CPW said not to try and free the animal yourself and to alert authorities in the instance an animal is showing distress and possibly malnourished.
During rutting season, elk become more aggressive but there are a number of deer attacks, as well during their season which is typically from late November through the middle of December. Wildlife officers said to be cautious with dogs as they can pose a threat to some wildlife causing them to be aggressive.