Bambi shouldn't be picked up, hikers -- so keep your hands to yourselves

Summer beckons in Colorado's high country, which means it's time for an annual reminder to all whose usual encounters with nature don't extend beyond a petting zoo. Pawing and picking up baby wildlife, no matter how adorable or seemingly in need of rescue, is almost never a good idea. This message comes to you from conservation officials in Aspen, who recently came across hikers toting two ten-pound fawns.

The apparently well-meaning but clueless hikers came across the big-eyed megafauna on Smuggler Mountain last Friday, curled up by the side of the road. Fearing the fawns were at risk from predators and off-leash dogs, and taking to heart the mantra of Gucci-padded Pitkin County about thinking globally and acting locally, the do-gooders decided to move the animals somewhere else.

According to this account in the Aspen Times, an Aspen city ranger intercepted the deer-slingers as they were hauling Bambi & Friend down the road. He had a "long talk" with them about the wonders of the natural world and how they are best left to their own ways. He explained that young fawns actually lack scent, which helps protect them from predation; by picking up the animals and hauling them around, the hikers were compromising their safety and making it more difficult for their roaming mama to find them.

With the possible exception of baby birds who need assistance back to their nest, few critters gain from our amateur interference. An injured animal might trigger a call to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, but in most cases, wildlife fare better left alone. No petting, no snacks, and no autographs, please.

Enjoy the summer. And keep your mitts to yourself.

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Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast