You’re hiking along your favorite trail and then…BAM…trail closure sign! You peek around; it doesn’t LOOK like anything is wrong – no mud, no construction. So, what could possibly be keeping you from completing your mission to hike the trail? It may be a seasonal wildlife closure.
During certain times of the year some animals are hypersensitive to the presence of humans in their habitats. Typically, this sensitivity revolves around mating, birthing, and migratory seasons. While for most animals these life events take place in the spring and summer months, a seasonal wildlife closure can impact a trail or even and entire park at any time of the year!
The territorial bald eagle population needs this uninterrupted time at the Carolyn Holmberg Preserve along the Cradleboard Trail in order to continue to rebuild their once threatened population. The ground-nesting birds on North and South Table Mountains appreciate the elimination of at least one threat as they strive to protect their young from snake and coyote predation. Even the migrating waterfowl at Crown Hill Park enjoy their privacy as the raise their young in and around Kestrel Pond.
Managers of public lands are required to follow federal, state, and local laws regarding these closures, and violators of these closures can be subject to hefty fines and possibly even jail time. This may seem over the top or like and inconvenience to you, but these closures ensure that the parks and trails you frequent are able to maintain a healthy and functioning ecology. Also, as the responsible recreator you are, it is important to remember that Plan Ahead and Prepare and Respect Wildlife are two of the core principals of Leave No Trace. Land management entities to a great job of keeping their websites up to date, but if you are unsure, give your local ranger a call!
Across the Front Range there are many trails and parks that offer viewing opportunities for this magnificent wildlife! Head on over to Rocky Mountain Arsenal to catch a glimpse of the summering burrowing owls, or take a leisurely 1.5-mile walk around Bluff Lake to view stunning waterfowl and marsh songbirds.
Interested in finding more hikes that are prime viewing areas for the spring birding migration? Check out CMC Press book Best Front Range Bird Hikes to hone those skills!