Littleton Wildlife Officer Terry Carr spoke with the monthly citizens’ group Community Conversations on August 11. He addressed concerns about increases and decreases in wildlife numbers. We don’t see many foxes or coyotes these days. And rabbits are everywhere!
Carr’s overall message is one of reassurance—that population cycles in wildlife are normal.
Yes, Carr says, there has been a decrease in foxes and coyotes. The primary reason is mange, a disease that is fatal for these animals, but isn’t a threat for humans.
Related to the decline of these predators is an increase in voles and rabbits. When asked about the disease that makes rabbits sick, he said that another animal can be infected only by eating an affected rabbit, and that dogs can be vaccinated, or treated if they become ill.
As for reports of the appearance of rats, Carr explains that they have been driven out of their natural habitat by new construction. Particular locations that have recently been bulldozed are the former Marathon property at S. Broadway and Dry Creek, and at Southpark on Mineral Ave. west of Broadway.
Carr was pleasantly clear that it is every person’s responsibility to manage wildlife. Here are things we can do:
- Protect gardens with battery-powered low-voltage electric fencing
- Never leave any food outdoors overnight, including pet food and chicken feed. The health department lists this as the primary method for managing rats
- Always put your trash in containers with tight lids. Don’t leave trash out overnight
- If you trap, use a trap that kills instantly
- Don’t use poison because it subjects wildlife to a slow painful death, and endangers pets