The city of Arvada, not unlike most urban cities in Colorado, has a diverse population of wildlife. Arvada is home to raccoons, beavers, coyotes, skunks, squirrels, bats, woodpeckers, snakes, and fox, just to name a few.
Many of the wild animals that live in the city, however, are rarely seen, unless there is some sort of conflict. Conflict usually occurs when the wild animal causes damage to property, or makes its home too close to human habitation.
The space available to our wildlife is shrinking and it's not uncommon to have some encounter with Arvada's wild side. Nevertheless, in most cases people and wildlife can coexist.
Nearly any wild animal, given the proper food source, water and cover, can make a home among humans. Intentional or inadvertent feeding is the major cause of most wildlife problems. Animals will find easy ways to accommodate their needs if they can, it's easier to get into garbage or eat out of the dog/cat dish then have to hunt or dig for food. Wild animals also make their home close to their food source and in some cases that means the invasion of human dwellings.
Don't give wildlife the opportunity to get into your garbage. Store it in metal or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and put trash out only when it's scheduled to be picked up. Always feed your animals inside.
Keep in mind wild animal's behavior changes with each season.
Babies are typically born in the spring and become most active during the summer. There are very few cases of abandoned wildlife, and usually the parent is near by; for example, when baby birds began to fly they often spend time on the ground before they perfect their flying skills.
In most cases, the damage caused by wild animals is avoidable.
A pro-active approach to preventing damage from occurring is the most humane method to wildlife problems.
The key to preventing problems is to animal proof your house, which is excluding the animal from unwanted areas. Animal proofing should be an on-going household chore and become part of the maintenance schedule for homes, out-buildings, and yards. Here are some animal proofing tips:
- Cover window wells with commercially available grates or bubbles, or make a cover yourself using inch hardware cloth or chicken wire.
- Close holes around and under the foundation of your home and out buildings, so that animals will not be tempted to homestead. Bury wire mesh one to two feet deep in places where animals might gain access.
- Screen fireplace chimneys and furnace, attic and dryer vents, and keep dampers closed to avoid "drop-in" guests. Chimneys are just like hollow trees and make an ideal home for raccoons. For this reason alone chimney caps, either commercial or homemade, should be checked annually.
- Fence gardens and cover fruit trees with commercially available netting to protect your harvest. Scare crows, hardware ground cloth and lights are other deterrents that can be effective in gardens. Also, cover homemade fish ponds at night.
- Check locations near the roof for rotten or loose boards, sealing overhangs where a determined squirrel would gain access to your home. If you find a location where you have a hole, seal it with either 1/2" metal hardware wire or sheet metal flashing.
- Seal all cracks and holes larger than inch wide to keep out rats, mice, bats and snakes.
Never feed the wildlife! (Even bird seed can attract raccoons and skunks, which are the most adapted urban wildlife animals.) Wild animals can find food on their own and will cause fewer problems for you and your neighbors if left alone.
Never touch or pick up injured, sick or dead wildlife.
If an ounce of prevention is still not enough and an unwanted animal moves in, please call Arvada Animal Management for more specific ways to humanely encourage them to leave. You can also call the Division of Wildlife at 303-297-1192.
Wildlife Fast Fact:
Many wildlife populations increase and decrease naturally, in response to available food, nesting areas, etc. Trapping or relocating wildlife leaves a void for other wildlife to move into the territory.
If too many voids are created by trapping and relocating the animals, pregnancy rates and the number of young born per litter will increase in order to fill the voids. So, this quick fix to wildlife problem's, may actually cause larger problems down the line.
In addition, trapping and relocating animals may result in unnecessary suffering, starvation and ultimately their death.