Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials remind public to be cautious around deer in rut

Meg Soyars
Sky-Hi News
Two whitetail bucks fight for mating rights.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife/Wayne D. Lewis

Throughout Colorado, deer are in the peak of mating season, known as the rut. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are reminding the public to take extra precautions to avoid conflicts.

“Bucks are more aggressive this time of year and will stand their ground in the presence of people,” said Parks and Wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Adrian Archuleta in a recent news release. “It is especially important for people and their pets to give deer extra space this time of year.”

The rut for deer usually continues until late December. During this time, bucks are territorial and loaded with testosterone as they search for a mate. They spar with rival bucks and may attack people they perceive to be competitive rivals. 

Deer may also see dogs as threats. In past years, bucks have gored people and dogs. When encountering deer, people should keep their distance and not attempt to get close to pet or feed them.

Parks and Wildlife recommends:

  • Keep dogs on a leash
  • On walks, stay as far away from deer as possible
  • Don’t allow dogs to roam free
  • People should check yard their yard before letting dogs outside
  • Never let dogs chase deer or other wildlife
  • Never leave food outside that could attract wildlife
  • Tell children not to approach deer or any other wildlife

Bucks in the rut may also spar with and become tangled in swing sets, volleyball nets, bicycles, wire vegetable cages, hoses and more.

Along with tangle hazards in yards, holiday lights are constant hazard to bucks this time of year. Holiday decorations and lights should be attached firmly to structures and strung at least eight feet off the ground. Never drape lights on top of shrubbery or wrap lights around the trunks of trees. Before rut, as bucks shed their velvet antlers and gain hard antlers; they rub their antlers on trees to sharpen them during the mating season or scrape them on shrubs to mark their boundaries.

“Our wildlife officers respond to calls every year of deer stuck in various netting and holiday decorations,” Archuleta said in the release. “In some cases, these hazards prevent the deer from being able to eat and breathe. Additionally, this causes high levels of stress on the animal and can lead to fatality.”

If deer become entangled, people are asked to call their local Parks and Wildlife office for help. Trying to free a deer from hazards puts people at risk of injury from antlers and hooves, and should be left to a wildlife officer.

Drivers are also reminded to slow down and be on the lookout for deer on highways. Not only are bucks in pursuit of a mate, but animals are also migrating to winter ranges at lower elevations, and will be more present crossing roadways.

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