Denver Animal Protection warns about handling wildlife


Denver Animal Protection would like to remind residents “to keep wildlife wild — and stay away, for both human and animal safety.”

Wild animals can carry rabies

According to the news release quoted above, wild animals account for more than 90% of reported rabies cases in the U.S. Additionally, rabies has the highest mortality rate — 99.9% — of any disease on earth, states the news release.

“Because rabies is so dangerous, Denver Animal Protection takes interactions between humans and wildlife extremely seriously,” states the news release. “Spring and summer months mean a boom in wildlife baby populations. And while these babies are cute, they can be dangerous.”

The rabies virus is spread to people from the saliva of infected animals, usually transmitted through a bite. It can be deadly if not treated before symptoms appear. Even a seemingly healthy animal could be carrying rabies and not exhibit any symptoms, and unfortunately, an animal must be euthanized to be tested, states the news release.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, any mammal can get rabies, but the “most common wild reservoirs of rabies are raccoons, skunks, bats and foxes.” The Denver Animal Protection’s press release also points to coyotes.

People who handle wild animals must go to their doctor and may have to get post-exposure rabies vaccinations. Pets that were in contact with a wild animal that may carry rabies must be quarantined for at least 45 days. It is important for pet owners to be sure their pet’s vaccinations are up to date to protect them in the event of exposure to rabies.

Sick or injured wildlife

It is important to know that young wildlife are usually not orphaned. Many species of wildlife leave their young in a safe place while the adults search for food — usually nearby — and it is not common for the mother to leave her babies for many hours.

Birds will often leave the nest before they can fly, hopping around on the ground for days. These fledglings will feed on the ground until they are able to fly.

“Generally, if good Samaritans intervene, thinking the babies are abandoned, they do more harm than good,” states the news release. “Human-animal encounters are often unnecessary and detrimental to the animal. A young animal’s best chance for survival is with its parents who can ensure it learns all its natural behaviors for survival in the wild.”

Sick and injured animals should also be left alone. If you see an animal you suspect may be abandoned, sick, injured or otherwise needs help, the best thing to do is report it, states the news release. Denver Animal Protection officers can properly assess an animal’s condition and determine if it needs to be humanely euthanized or transported to a rehab center for care. Denver Animal Protection works closely with the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment and wildlife rehab centers in the state.

Who to call

Denver Animal Protection serves the city and county of Denver, and Denver Mountain Parks. To report an animal that you think is sick, injured or abandoned, you can contact Denver Animal Protection through 311 or the Denver Police on its non-emergency number, which is 720-913-2000.

Denver Animal Protection does not remove healthy wildlife from residences, nor does it handle pest-control.

Denver Animal Protection is a division of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment (DDPHE). To learn more, visit

Denver Animal Protection, wild animals


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