In a state like Colorado, knowing that there is wildlife around us comes to most Boulder residents as a given. It’s no shock to see a deer in the early morning, or see small chipmunks or mice scurrying about while hiking. Many people see a group of prairie dogs and think nothing of them; they’re just a part of our every day lives. However, there are biologists that are paying closer attention, from the smallest creatures to the largest, and they are always working on a variety of projects to help us help the wilder side of our state live with us too.

For instance, many residents know that where there is open space in Colorado, there are prairie dogs who live there. But in fact Boulder County has started to place restrictions on the little guys, but for their own good. With their large numbers, they can seem pretty under foot, and can wander into places that aren’t good for them. So, people working with this prairie dog management have categorized areas that are good, pretty okay, and not a place that’s safe for colonies. This can seem pretty boring, but what we have learned about the colonies and the best place for their habitats has created the opportunity for Boulder County to move forward with plans to reintroduce other species of ferret back into our wildlife, and that’s pretty cool.

Boulder and Jefferson counties have also been keeping busy with research on mountain lions, specifically pertaining to how to protect them from us, and us from them. It’s not unheard of for mountain lions to come into conflict with humans in the past, and as the population of Boulder grows and more and more people are getting out on the trails, these kinds of instances happen more and more often. It’s also true that relocation of the animal in this situation is also not always the best solution and can have results that are even worse for the animal then whatever situation they came from. So, studies have been conducted in the past, and more in the future, for a special kind of condition used with the wild animals so that they are safer, and have the ability to protect themselves better in the future.

It can be pretty lack luster, but the truth of the matter is there is still so much about the wild parts of our state that we don’t understand fully yet. And, if you are in possession of a motion sensor wild life camera, you can help! Boulder County Open Space has a project currently running called Critter Snap, which is an ongoing amalgam of wild beasties in our area, and already has over one hundred volunteers. The purpose is to understand what is around us and how often they come by, but the project is open to all who wish to view it as it is underway. So, if you’d like to participate, you’d be furthering local scientific studies at a very low cost to you, and if not, you can always pop over to their web page and take a look at the frankly beautiful quick shots of nature. Science may not always be exciting, but it sure can be pretty, regardless.

Mandi Curtis is an exuberant introvert and Colorado native. She's majoring in creative writing at CU Boulder, her latest effort in chasing a lifelong dream of becoming a published author. In her free time, Mandi can be found awkwardly ordering drinks at hipster cafes and reading anything she can get her hands on. She loves Edison bulbs, hiking, and trying new things. She's an avid traveler, so far having been to seven foreign nations stretching from Spain to the UK. She's passionate and determined by nature. She's volunteered in hospital gift shops and entertained unaccompanied children on trans-Atlantic flights. Mandi does not have the stomach to ever say no to a furry four legged friend, which makes her the perfect servant to her cat.