Specializing in the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned and injured wildlife in Colorado.
Deer & Elk
Douglas County has a large number of resident elk herds of more than 400 animals. The herds are mostly sedentary (they do not migrate during the seasons,) but inhabits the open space areas year-round.
Large portions of Castle Pines Village are considered winter range for deer and elk.
Winter range is defined as the area occupied approximately, December 15 through March 15. The most important winter range is at lower elevations, on south-facing slopes, where the snow is at shallower depths and supports the mountain shrubs for the deer and elk diet. Winter range also consists of three components, all occurring within the daily range of deer and elk. These components are foraging areas, bedding/cover areas, and movement corridors.
Foraging areas must support suitable vegetations and must be secluded from human disturbance. Bedding areas are used by the animals during the day and night, usually in conifer stands such as ponderosa pine. Temperatures are warmer as a result of reduced wind velocities, and provide cover and protection from predators and humans. Unrestricted and relatively short movement corridors must be available between bedding/cover and foraging areas.
Large mammal winter ranges are important and limited. Deer and elk put on fat reserves for winter. They have higher energy costs for staying warm, avoiding predators, mating, and supporting a developing fetus. Winter forage is limited and of poorer quality than in the summer. Increased energy demands during winter make a difference between survival until spring and the survival of calves and fawns.
AVOIDING WILDLIFE ON ROADWAYS & HIGHWAYS
Slow down and be alert. If you see a deer that has just run across the road, slow down and look around. There may be more animals that follow the leader. Elk are generally easier to spot because they are larger and may travel in larger groups. If you see such a group by the side of the road that seems to want to cross (for example, they are staring across the road), give them a break. Pull to the side of the road as far away from them as possible and wait for them to cross. Older cows are generally the leaders in an elk herd and the first elk you will usually see. Be patient; you may get to see a big bull at the end of the group.
Avoiding deer and elk on roads is a matter of being aware when the animals are more likely to be crossing roads. Deer and elk will cross roads in Douglas County year-round, but they are present in larger numbers at lower elevations and cross roads more frequently during spring and fall migration and winter range occupancy. Drivers should be particularly careful on local roads and highways from mid-November to mid-May. Large mammals and predators are most likely to cross roads from around dusk until dawn. This is also the time of day when visibility is the poorest. One mile north of Highway 85 on Daniel’s Park Road is a heavily used wildlife crossing, so be particularly careful in that area.
Drive defensively with deer in mind, obey posted speed limits, and recognize that those deer crossing signs were put up for a reason. Be aware that headlights temporarily blind and confuse animals, causing them to move erratically and unpredictably. If you see wildlife on or near the road at night, slow down and look around. There are probably more animals. The deer you may be watching intently trot off the left side of the road may be followed by a deer approaching the road’s right shoulder.