Wildlife Management

Keeping You & Telluride's Wildlife Safe

Recognizing the tremendous enrichment that we gain by the abundance and proximity of wildlife near our town, the goal of management is to promote co-existence in a manner that does not endanger the animal or humans. Many species of wildlife live in and around Telluride - beaver, black bear, mountain lions, lynx, and skunks to name a few. Currently, Telluride actively manages just two: bears and beavers.

Bear Tips & Safety Information

For the most part, managing bears in Telluride requires educating people and motivating them to keep food away from the bears by following seven basic tenets:

  • Always keep your polycart (trash can) locked.
  • Bag trash tightly to contain odors.
  • Clean polycart with a bleach solution.
  • Keep pet food inside.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean.
  • Never leave food in a vehicle.
  • Lock downstairs doors and windows.

If bears do not forage successfully in town, they will then move on to areas that provide them with the food they need to hibernate through the winter. Houses have been “broken into” by bears looking for food. Imagine the unpleasant surprise of coming home to a bear eating ice cream out of your freezer and the mess they created to locate the tastiest items!

Keeping the town clean also serves to minimize skunks and rodents who thrive near humans because of our messy ways.

Unlocked Polycart & Dumpster Fines

Our bears are becoming more aggressive as they become more successful in finding food in town. Please do your part to keep them away from harm! The Marshal’s Department issues tickets for unlocked polycarts and dumpsters ($250 for the first offense; $500 for the second offense; a court summons and a $1,000 fine for the third or consecutive offenses). 

Monitoring Local Beaver Dams

Managing beavers in Telluride requires keeping an eye on dams that back up waters from the San Miguel River and keeping stout wire around favorite trees. It is the job of beavers to graze on willows, aspen and cottonwoods. They often graze quite heavily on these trees for food and to keep their front teeth filed down to a reasonable length. This does not kill the trees or willows, which thrive on pruning, but it certainly changes their appearance - where once there was a tree, there now is a shrub that doesn’t have the same landscape appeal!

Dams in the river are a more serious issue on two levels. Left unattended, the dams could back up water into areas of town that are required for other uses, like the post office or someone’s home. Even those that don’t create an immediate flooding hazard, can exacerbate flooding during a large precipitation event. So, town staff is currently experimenting with a number of methods designed to allow beaver to build their dams and allow humans to control the water level behind them. When these methods fail and to minimize adverse impacts to the sensitive riparian corridor, lots of back-breaking labor is required to take down dams by hand. When even this fails, deconstruction machinery is carefully used to remove them.