Living with Wildlife



Wildlife Protection Ordinances

Estes Park's Wildlife Protection Ordinance with trash and bird feeder regulations

Larimer County's Wildlife Protection Ordinance for the Estes Valley Planning Area

Tips for being bear-responsible
  • The Town's Wildlife Protection Ordinance requires bird feeders to be suspended and inaccessible to bears April through November, when bears are active.
  • Suspension systems may include hanging feeders from a wire 10 feet or more from the ground and 10 feet or more from any posts, trees and any other object that could be accessed by a bear. Residents may also choose to hang bird feeders from upper level windows which are inaccessible to bears.
  • It is recommended that bird feeders be brought in at night, even when suspended. They will attract bears to residences even if they are unable to reach them.
  • Avoid platform bird feeders as they allow seed to easily be scattered onto the ground as well as carried with the wind. Ground underneath of bird feeders should be kept clean of seed and hulls. Store bird seed in a container with a secure lid, inside of a bear-resistant building.
  • Consider not using bird feeders at all, or replacing hummingbird feeders with flowers. Spray trash cans with ammonia to help deter bears and other wildlife.
  • Consider keeping food garbage frozen until trash day to reduce its odor and thus its attractiveness to bears and other wildlife.
  • Never leave pet food outside.
  • Don't leave food or scented objects in vehicles.
  • Lock the windows and doors of buildings and vehicles.
More black bear information

Colorado Parks & Wildlife

Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk Safety 

Elk viewing is best from a safe distance Each September and October, thousands of visitors are drawn to Estes Park to watch herds of elk gather in the valley for their mating season, or‚ rut. With this popular activity comes the responsibility for everyone to be safe and respect these majestic animals. During the rut, the male‚ or bull, elk are irritable, aggressive and extremely dangerous to onlookers who get too close.

The elk calving season takes place in May and June of each year. During this time, female elk, or cows, become irritable and highly protective of their young calves. Though they may look harmless, like the bull elk during the rut, cows are extremely dangerous during calving season.

Marked calving areas should be avoided. Caution should be exercised at all times during calving season. "Every day our dispatch center receives numerous calls for police officers to respond to elk issues around Town, and the vast majority of issues are caused by people," commented Estes Park Police Chief Wes Kufeld. He explained that the most common reports to dispatch are people getting too close to the elk and "elk jams" caused when drivers park their vehicles in the way of traffic in order to watch the elk. Kufeld continued, "Safety should be first on the minds of elk-viewers, so they can have a great experience."

The Police Department provides the following tips to visitors for safe elk viewing:

  • Elk are wild animals which must be observed from a safe distance to avoid injury or death. If an animal is carefully watching you and appears jumpy when you move, you are too close.
  • Keep pets secured on a leash and do not allow them to bark at, lunge at, or chase wildlife.
  • Never block traffic. Move your vehicle to a safe place completely off the roadway to watch elk.
  • Do not imitate an elk call, or bugle, when elk are irritable during the rut. This can endanger you and the elk.
  • Elk know no boundaries, but people do. Respect private property when viewing wildlife.
  • The Estes Park Police Department does enforce wildlife laws including laws against feeding or harassing wildlife, or allowing one's pet to harass wildlife.