Christmas decorations can kill, so be mindful when stringing lights and other outdoor holiday ornaments, wildlife officials say.
Just this week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials immobilized and freed a buck whose antlers had become entangled in Christmas lights in the Rockrimmon area. While not decoration related, but they’re also on the lookout for another buck near Fontanero Road with a lawn chair stuck around its neck, said Cody Wigner, the assistant area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Region.
The state parks department receives dozens of reports of deer, elk, and moose entangled in Christmas paraphernalia. Incidents are particularly frequent given that its mating season.
If snared, these animals can come under immense stress, said Wigner.
“If they can’t break free, they can hurt themselves in the process,” Wigner said. “If they do get untangled or break free, they can drag the decoration, and that can sometimes impede their vision. That’s a big safety issue in terms of getting hit by a car or increasing their stress.”
Residents attempting to help the animal can worsen the situation.
“There’s definitely right ways to do it,” Wigner said. “People should get hold of us so we can determine the best and safest way to handle the situation.”
Wildlife officials usually use a taser to temporarily stun the deer while they remove the item.
“With the taser, the animal is up and running pretty dang quick,” Wigner said. “When we use tranquilizers or immobilization drugs can suffer from capture myopathy. It’s a greater risk that they could die under those anesthetics.”
Residents should wrap decorations tightly around posts and trees at least 6 feet off the ground and not draped over bushes or trees. Other items such as volleyball nets, tricycles, gardening tools, hammocks, and swings should also be secured.
If you see an animal in need, call Colorado Parks and Wildlife at 227-5200.