Colorado is home to a plethora of habitats that support fauna of all sizes. With a wide range of elevations, temperatures, and rainfall amounts, Colorado is ideal for herbivores, predators, fish, small mammals, reptiles, bird species, and invertebrates. Whether you're interested in hunting or sight-seeing, this short guide will inform you about some of the native animals commonly encountered on Colorado ranches and wild lands.
The grouse is a game bird often found on hunting ranches in Colorado. There are a variety of different species, such as the sharp-tailed grouse, the dusky grouse, and the white-tailed ptarmigan, each found in different areas. Dusky grouse live in forests, the ptarmigan lives in the mountains, and sharp-tailed grouse are found all over the plains.
Well known for fly-fishing, Colorado rivers are home to several different varieties of trout such as rainbow, brown, brook, and lake trout.
Rainbow trout are found in most lakes, streams, and rivers in Colorado, and are easily identified by the rainbow stripe on their brown-speckled bodies.
In high mountain streams and lakes brown trout are a prized catch and are identified by black spots and reddish-orange spots inside of light blue circles.
Brook trout, identified by their tri-colored orange, black, and white fins, are found at high elevations in lakes, streams, and beaver dams.
Lake trout are the largest species of trout found in North America, and they are native to the deep waters of lakes in Colorado. They are identified by white spots on a dark background and the deep fork in their tails.
Black bears range widely in the forest regions of the Rocky Mountains. You aren't likely to see one even when they aren't hibernating. They are shy and tend to avoid contact with humans.
Black bears are majestic, but can be dangerous. There a few precautionary measure you can take to keep safe from them. Be sure to read up on bear awareness, and learn how to enjoy these majestic animals safely.
Coyote populations are at an all-time high in the continental United States. Living anywhere from deserts to tundra, coyotes can be spotted frequently on almost any ranch in Colorado. Coyotes are cunning predators, and they hunt at night and sleep during the day.
To avoid dangerous encounters with coyotes, never feed them, and don't leave food outside that may lure them close.
Red foxes live in woodlands, open pastures, and urban areas close to cities, but they avoid desert lands. Though they are often red like their namesake, some foxes are silver or black. They have a short lifespan of only five years compared to the fifteen years of their captive counterparts.
The lynx was once poached to endangerment in the early 1900s, but in 1999, 41 lynx from Canada and Alaska were reintroduced into Colorado. A lynx sighting is rare, but 150-250 lynx now live in the San Juan Mountains.
A lynx encounter, like that of an encounter with a black bear, can be dangerous. Do not approach, feed or run from a lynx. Try to make yourself look bigger, and back away from the lynx without looking away from it.
The moose, weighing as much as 1800 pounds and coming in at seven feet tall, is the largest wild mammal roaming North America. They favor habitats by rivers or streams, and one of the best places to see them is in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Moose don't usually attack humans, but can be provoked (usually by dogs). If one is charging you, try to get behind something large such as a tree or large boulder. Whatever you do, try to avoid falling on the ground as Moose tend to stomp.
The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is the state animal of Colorado, and they will often wander onto ranch real estate. Bighorn sheep are best known for their rounded horns. Both males and females have these horns, but the male's horns can weigh up to 30 pounds, are thicker, and curve more than those of their female counterparts.
Bighorn sheep prefer sunny, south-facing slopes, and they are a bio-indicator of the health of the environment since they are particularly susceptible to human impacts.
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