Colorado Researchers Monitoring Human-Wildlife Interactions at Mount Evans
Throughout the summer, researchers from the Denver Zoo have been working at Mount Evans, investigating different ways to decrease human-wildlife interactions. Unfortunately, these types of interactions are becoming all too common and can be dangerous for both humans and wild animals alike.
Because Mount Evans is such a popular tourist destination, there's a high rate of instances where visitors get extremely close or even try to pet wildlife that they encounter – especially mountain goats and bighorn sheep. Actions like this could result in getting bit, or injured in another way by an aggressive animal. Besides that, humans can pose a risk to the animals with diseases we may be carrying or from our food.
Another result of human-wildlife interactions is that the animals start to become comfortable around people and are no longer scared when they come across humans.
To deter all of the above from happening, researchers from the Denver Zoo first suggest always keeping a safe distance of at least 30 feet or more from wildlife. Visitors should never try to feed wildlife either.
Additionally, researchers are experimenting with passive ways to keep the bighorn sheep and mountain goats from gathering in the parking areas at Mount Evans. One of these methods involves using mountain lion urine as a deterrent. Researchers deposit the urine around the perimeter of the parking lots every week, and because mountain lions are a natural predator of ungulates, researchers are hoping that the scent will trigger a survival response in the goats and sheep, so they stay out of the lots. The behaviors of these animals are being monitored via game cameras and live observation, and collected data will be used for developing future wildlife plans.
The new ticketing system at Mount Evans should also help population control at the Colorado location for both visitors and animals.