Colorado Parks and Wildlife: Christmas lights and decorations can entangle big game

Throughout Colorado, deer are entering the mating season and residents are reminded to put away equipment in which big game animals can become tangled. Residents are also asked to be careful how outdoor Christmas decorations are hung.

On Nov. 8, a large mule deer buck got stuck in the ropes of a batting cage at Durango High School. Fortunately, a passerby saw the deer and alerted Colorado Parks and Wildlife. A wildlife officer sawed off the animal’s antlers to set it free.

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Deer, especially bucks, are especially active at this time of year as they chase females and compete with other bucks. They are completely focused on “the rut” and are less wary of human-made structures and vehicles.

CPW urges everyone to look for items that could cause problems, such as clotheslines, trampolines, low-hanging wires, swing sets, tomato cages, plastic fencing, chicken wire, bicycles and toys. They should be removed if possible, or flagged with long strands of bright surveyor’s tape that might help to keep deer away.

People displaying Christmas ornaments and lights are also asked to exercise caution. Lights should be attached firmly to structures, or strung at least 8 feet off the ground. Do not drape lights loosely on top of shrubbery or wrap lights around tree trunks.

Besides deer, elk and moose can also get tangled in decorations and yard equipment.

Sometimes animals can free themselves from the material, but most of the time not until winter when antlers are shed naturally. In cases where the objects pose life-threatening danger to the animal, CPW officers may have to tranquilize the animal. But that is stressful and can be fatal for the animal.

If you see an animal tangled in something, contact the local CPW office.