Feeding Colorado Wildlife Is Illegal

Feeding Colorado Wildlife Is IllegalFeeding Colorado Wildlife Is Illegal

Regulation 21, enforced by the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife (CPW), prohibits feeding Colorado big game wildlife.

Colorado has ten species of big game animals: mule deer, whitetail deer, pronghorn antelope, elk, moose, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, desert bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black bear, and mountain lion.

Wild animals have evolved to find, eat and digest a natural diet, found in their native habitat, not alternate food sources provided by humans.  Good intentions by well-meaning people can have the unintended effect of malnourishment, harming or killing wildlife.

Attracting wildlife to a feeding station, salt block, lure or area can cause a concentration of animals.  This may cause the rapid spread of disease.  Some animal diseases can be transmitted to humans.  When wildlife is naturally dispersed over a wider range, there is less risk of a disease infecting the whole population.

Feeding in close proximity to humans increases the risk of animal attacks and human injuries during wildlife viewing.  Wild animals may lose their natural fear of humans and approach too closely.  They may learn to associate humans with a food source. Humans may approach too closely for viewing or taking photos.

When big game prey animals frequently visit a feeding location, their predators will follow.  Feeding the deer or elk may create an attractive nuisance, drawing mountain lions or bears to the area, creating a danger to pets, children, senior citizens, and unprepared adults.

If predators or nuisance animals come too close to human residents, neighborhoods, or recreational areas, wildlife officers may need to capture and relocate animals or put them down to protect public safety.

During extreme winter weather, CPW will provide emergency food for ungulates in a Game Management Unit to reduce winter kill.

Small game, under CPW regulation 300 D, includes game birds, rabbits, and squirrels.

bird feeder platformBird Feeders are Allowed

Bird feeders are allowed but may need to be removed if they attract black bears, coyotes or fox.

Local Wildlife Feeding Laws

In addition to state laws and regulations, some cities have local laws that prohibit feeding Colorado wildlife.  Check with your local government or animal control department.

CPW Regulation 21, Feeding or Attracting Wildlife

A. Except as provided in subsections (A)(1-4) of this regulation no person shall place, deposit, distribute or scatter grain, hay, minerals, salt, or other foods so as to intentionally constitute a lure, attraction or enticement for big game not lawfully held in captivity.
1. Crops and crop aftermath, including hay, alfalfa and grains, produced, harvested, stored or fed to domestic livestock in accordance with normal agricultural practices shall not be subject to this regulation.
2. When the Director determines it necessary to authorize feeding to prevent damage to private property.
3. When the Director determines it necessary to authorize feeding to mitigate the population loss anticipated by a predicted winter mortality that will exceed 30 percent of the adult female segment of a big game ungulate population in any one Game Management Unit.
4. When the Director determines it appropriate to feed big game as a part of a research or management program.

B. It shall be unlawful to place or deposit minerals or salt in an area so as to constitute a lure or attractant for wildlife. Nothing in this regulation shall restrict the use of salt or mineral blocks in normal agricultural practices.

C. Except as provided in subsections (A)(1-4) of this regulation no person shall place, deposit, distribute or scatter any food or other substance so as to intentionally constitute a lure, attraction or enticement for coyotes or fox in an area where the discharge of firearms is precluded by law. This regulation shall not apply to any person using any bait or other attractants for the purpose of luring coyotes and fox for take as otherwise authorized by law.

D. No person shall fail to take remedial action to avoid contact or conflict with black bears, coyotes or fox, which may include the securing or removal of outdoor trash, cooking grills, pet food, bird feeders or any other similar food source or attractant, after being notified by the Division that black bears, coyotes or fox are in the area and advised to undertake such remedial action. Further, after an initial contact or conflict with a black bear, coyotes or fox, no person shall continue to provide, or otherwise fail to secure or remove, any likely food sources or attractants, including, but not limited to, outdoor trash, grills, pet food or bird feeders.

Visit Colorado State Wildlife Areas

Enjoy our beautiful scenery and animals, but avoid feeding Colorado wildlife.  Keep a safe distance when viewing or taking photos.  Supervise children and pets.

Hunters, tourists and wildlife watchers visiting the area can find campsite information in our San Luis Valley Camping Directory.  When camping or picnicking, follow the rules for safe food storage.

There are many Colorado State Wildlife Areas in the San Luis Valley, including Sanchez Reservoir, Smith Reservoir, Mountain Home Reservoir, San Luis Hills, Higel, Playa Blanca, San Luis Lakes, Zapata Falls, La Jara Reservoir, Pinon Hills, and more.

Photo credits
Wildlife photos from CPW and National Park Service, Fair Use for education.

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