SNAKE WARNING

A large prairie rattlesnake presents a warning along a roadside near Fort Benton, Mont., in 2004.

Watch out where you step on trails or rocky areas. And don’t get between a mother and her waddling youngsters.

With the onset of spring in the Pikes Peak region, wildlife that hibernate in the winter are waking up and could pose a danger to humans, Colorado Parks and Wildlife warned.

Sows and cubs are often spotted around April, when the mother bears are trying to pack on as much weight as they can to feed their cubs. This means, that even though it may be tempting to leave pet food and bird feeders outside, they’re best kept in bearproof containers, biologists said.

“Bears are extremely intelligent animals,” said CPW biologist Julie Stiver. “They will continue to come back to where they can get an easy meal.”

Bears are more likely to be seen in the mornings and evenings, when it’s not as warm out.

CPW recommends that if out for a day hike, don’t leave food containers open, even in vehicles with the windows rolled up. Out on the trail, keep dogs leashed.

If you come across bear, don’t run. Be big, loud and back away slowly. Maintain control of any dogs and keep them quiet, so as to keep from agitating the bear. The most important piece of advice: stay calm.

Spring’s warmth also brings out reptiles and amphibians, said Stiver. Garter snakes and turtles are especially common in Colorado Springs, as are venomous rattlesnakes.

“Be aware of your surroundings,” Stiver said. “We always tell people that when you’re backing away from a rattlesnake, be careful of where you’re stepping to. Sometimes there are more around.”

Rattlesnakes can be seen in many different places, from city parks to the Garden of the Gods. Biologists recommend when walking in these areas, not to use headphones. Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before they strike and don’t always strike when they rattle.

“Pay attention to the warning that the snake gives you,” Stiver said. “The rattlesnakes that are around here, they’ll only bite to protect themselves. When people are getting bitten it’s because they’re getting to close. When you see one just back off from it.”

If bitten by any kind of venomous snake, CPW tells residents to immediately call Emergency Medical Services.

It’s not just the big animals to be wary of this time of year. Raccoons and squirrels can carry diseases and even become aggressive.

The CPW frequently gets calls about fawns being found. The recommendation biologists give is to leave the animal alone. If a fawn is by itself and appears healthy, it’s very possible the mother deer is not far and has left it in a place it can return to.

“Admire it from afar,” said Sarah Watson from CPW. “Respect it’s space and you won’t have any issues.”

Multimedia Journalist

Liz is a multimedia journalist with a specific interest in space exploration and environment. She watches way too much Star Trek and is working toward her rescue scuba divers certification. Liz joined the Gazette staff in 2019.

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