No one becomes a wildlife officer because they love to kill wild animals | Wild About Teller | Pikes Peak Courier

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The most common question I get is “What is a normal day like for you?” “

It always makes me smile and my answer is always the same: there is no normal day for me. Every day brings different challenges and a wide variety of situations.

Through reality TV shows, most people are familiar with the law enforcement aspect of a wildlife officer’s job. They know that we regularly check hunters and fishermen to make sure they are licensed and are following fair hunting rules and bag limits and so on. And they know we are chasing poachers.

However, few realize that all of CPW’s wildlife officers are first responders who often assist local law enforcement agencies, whether that is providing back-up on the scene. crime, providing emergency assistance during blizzards and floods, or controlling traffic.

Another little-known aspect of our profession is our work alongside our terrestrial and aquatic biologists. This includes counting big game and establishing license numbers for the next hunting season. We are known to don waders and help study fish in streams and lakes. And we use our biology degrees on a daily basis when dealing with individual animals that are injured or sick.

We also do a lot of education, from hunter education classes to presentations in schools. We spend many hours trying to educate people about the wild world around them. And, of course, we spend a lot of time talking to people about life with wildlife and how to be “bear watchful” (tip: keep your trash inside until pickup day!)

Finally, there are all the random wildlife calls that can never be predicted. I pulled a beaver out of a concrete septic tank, retrieved an orphaned mountain lion kitten someone brought home, and pulled a bucket of Halloween pumpkin out of a deer’s head. These are just a few of the crazy scenarios that occur when wildlife and humans interact.

This brings me to a very unique part of our job that some find it hard to understand: the duality of almost everything we do.

Every wildlife officer cares deeply about wildlife. We work long hours and go to incredible lengths to protect and preserve Colorado’s wildlife resources. Perhaps you’ve seen stories of CPW officers and employees wading through muddy wetlands to save a moose, or of a team of CPW officers braving the icy water to save a deer that is fell through ice into a pond. There are many examples.

We are bitten, scratched, raked by antlers, and otherwise abused as we try to free wildlife from sports nets, drainage ditches, or window wells. We do it because we love wildlife. It seems obvious, doesn’t it? However, I think it is important to say, to put in writing.

But sometimes we have to make tough decisions. The decision might be to let an animal with an obvious injury heal and adapt as best it can. We don’t have the money or the facilities to take care of every bear, deer, elk, American antelope or moose that collides with a vehicle and gets injured.

Sometimes nothing can be done. Just like other large animals, such as horses, there is no way to mend these load-bearing broken bones.

But these wild animals are incredibly tough. So as long as the animal is still mobile, we tend to leave it as it is. Often the wound leaves scars and the animal can still lead a full life, even with lameness or other impairment. However, if the animal suffers from a more horrific injury, such as an open fracture, we have only one choice. In these cases, our only option is to euthanize the animal. The only comfort is knowing that the animal is no longer in pain.

Bears are the most difficult for us. Too often bears are drawn into conflict by humans who intentionally or unintentionally feed them with bird feeders, pet food, unsecured gardens, fruit trees, open garage doors leading to to freezers full of goodies and more.

We spend hours educating, as I mentioned above, reasoning with people, and in extreme cases, posting quotes, just trying to get people to do their part to avoid conflict. .

When these efforts again fail, it is we who must make the difficult decision to move or euthanize a healthy bear.

I want to be clear: no one ever becomes a wildlife protection officer because they love to kill wildlife. Anybody.

And killing a bear is the worst part of our job. However, we will make this decision when it becomes necessary to protect people. It’s something we don’t take lightly or make easily.

I say all this not out of sympathy or out of pity. My goal is for people to understand how passionate we are about protecting wildlife. I love my job and what I do. However, we need everyone’s help.

We cannot protect bears from litter and unsecured bird feeders. We cannot cure deer who injure themselves by jumping over dangerous fences. By working together, we can all enjoy and preserve the incredible wildlife that surrounds us.

Hope this helped you understand what the job of a wildlife officer looks like. And I hope you will help me do my job of protecting our wild creatures.

As always, if you have a question, problem, or topic idea, please call me at 719-227-5281.

I might even answer your question in an upcoming episode of “Wild About Teller”.

Travis Sauder is a District Wildlife Manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Teller County.


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