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Urban Wildlife Near UCAR Campuses

Mule Deer in Boulder County

UCAR employees and visitors share the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains with wildlife.  Most of the time we share spaces without conflict, other times we’re a little too close for comfort.  

Over the past couple of years we’ve been a bit too close for comfort with bears, snakes and bats at all of our campuses.  Prairie dog habitat is again approaching our Foothills Lab Campus.

UCAR Facilities Management, Safety and Sustainability (FMS&S) and Security teams have standard responses to reports of wildlife.  We work closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife Rangers, Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks Rangers, and Boulder Animal Control to keep humans and wildlife safe from each other.

UCAR and the City and County of Boulder are interested in reports of bear and mountain lion sightings in populated areas.  UCAR Security staff report sightings on UCAR property via web site: or calling the Boulder Police non-emergency number 303-441-3333.

We also report nuisance or injured small wildlife (such as coyotes, raccoons, skunks, foxes, squirrels, bats) to Boulder Animal Control Unit at 303-441-3333. Employees who encounter wildlife off site are encouraged to contact Animal Control directly.

Please report any wildlife sightings of concern on UCAR property to UCAR Security by calling extension 1139.

UCAR staff respond to snakes only if they pose an imminent threat to employees or visitors as they seldom stay in place for long.  Choose an alternate route if you encounter any wildlife in your path of travel.


Our most well-known reptile is the venomous prairie rattlesnake. Although it is feared by many, the prairie rattlesnake is an important part of the food chain. The prairie rattlesnake is frequently confused with the harmless bullsnake, but the bullsnake does not have rattles and is generally larger. By mimicking the coloration and behavior of the rattlesnake, the bullsnake discourages predators. The beautiful (and harmless) milksnake is also present in Boulder; it sports red, black and yellow bands that resemble the colors of the venomous coral snake, but coral snakes are not found in Colorado.


At least 59 mammal species have been documented in the Boulder area. The area provides a haven for many species as precious habitat shrinks with increasing development of surrounding areas. Several species of bats hibernate and roost in the area and help to keep insect populations in check.

Occasionally, we are fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of (or hear!) such species as:

        • coyote
        • red fox
        • white-tail deer
        • yellow-bellied marmot
        • long-tailed weasel
        • elk
        • porcupine

Some of our most frequently seen mammals include:

        • mule deer
        • golden-mantled ground squirrel
        • Colorado chipmunk
        • deer mouse
        • fox squirrel
        • pine squirrel
        • rock squirrel
        • striped skunk
        • raccoon
        • Abert's or tassel-eared squirrel

Rarely seen are the secretive bobcat, mountain lion, and black bear.

Observe animals from a distance THEY consider safe.

        • Get your "close-up" by using binoculars, spotting scopes and telephoto camera lenses.
        • You are probably too close if animals are looking at you with heads up and ears pointed toward you; are nervous; or are "jumpy" when you move or make a noise. If you see these signs, sit quietly, or move slowly away until the behavior changes.
        • Move slowly and casually, not directly AT the wildlife.
        • Allow them to keep you in view, don't sneak up and surprise them.
        • Most animals rely on their eyesight and sense of smell to keep them from danger.

Never chase wildlife or attempt to make contact with wildlife. Don't follow them or behave in any way that might be seen as "harassment," which is unlawful. 
*Wildlife information was sourced from a variety of City of Boulder webpages.*

Last updated by sgenty on July 24, 2014 - 2:39pm.
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