Small livestock owners who live in areas where wildlife might be nearby are being asked by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to take extra steps to protect their animals.
More and more people throughout Colorado — and not just in rural areas — are keeping livestock.
A recent incident near Paonia in which a bear killed 40 chickens provides a reminder that wildlife will aggressively seek sources of food. Not only bears, but mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and raccoons also prey on livestock. Small domestic animals such as chickens, goats, miniature horses, sheep and pets are particularly vulnerable.
The bear was trapped and euthanized.
"Especially at night and at dusk and dawn, small livestock should be completely protected in sturdy enclosures," said Kirk Madariaga, district wildlife officer in the Paonia area.
A simple fence will not keep wildlife out of an area where small animals are kept. Animals should be taken into a building at night. If a pen is used, the top should also be covered. Chicken coops must be well secured—a bear can easily tear off a wooden door. Dogs that bark can provide additional deterrents.
Livestock owners should also keep pens and barns clean because most wildlife have a powerful sense of smell. Predators are opportunists and have good memories—if they find sources of food at one residence or farm, they'll go looking for more at similar places.
Owners should also look around their properties to identify other items that might attract wildlife, such as pet food, compost piles, garbage or pets. For example, if deer are finding easy sources of food and gathering in small groups, that is likely to attract a mountain lion.
Besides secure enclosures, livestock owners can also consider enclosing an area with an electric fence. Small livestock owners who want to learn more about protecting their animals can call the local Colorado Parks and Wildlife office and speak to a district wildlife manager. Wildlife managers will visit properties to provide information on livestock enclosures. Fencing materials are also available at no charge for some agricultural producers.
To learn more about living with wildlife, see the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at: cpw.state.co.us.blog comments powered by Disqus