Denver deer sauntering urban streets aren’t transplants. They’re just passing through.

Locals have spotted the critters in Cole, Skyland and Five Points lately. Just let them be, officials say.
2 min. read
A deer hangs out near 24th Avenue and Clarkson Street, July 14, 2019. (David Sachs/Denverite)

On Sunday morning, a deer stood on the sidewalk in Five Points and stared dumbly at a cat sitting in a front yard. The cat stared back for a few seconds before walking away to get on with its weekend.

Unlike the cat, I stared dumbly at the deer, mostly confused to see it loitering at 24th and Clarkson, and considered walking towards it to... I don't know, pet it? Luckily it munched some tree leaves and trotted east before I could interfere.

Apparently the cat flawlessly demonstrated how to treat an urban deer. Typical.

"In reality the worst thing we can do is interfere with their travel," said Vicki Vargas-Madrid, Denver's wildlife program administrator. "You can't control where they go so the best thing to do is let it be. They found their way into the city, they'll find their way out."

A day before the Five Points doe walked 24th Avenue, City Councilwoman Candi CdeBaca tweeted that a deer (maybe the same one?) was hanging out in the middle of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in Skyland. A buck was spotted in Cole late last month.

Some deer are definitely Denver residents. They live at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge and are common in southeast suburban neighborhoods, but Vargas-Madrid said the inner-city deer probably don't live there.

Despite the wave of social media, she said deer in the city aren't that uncommon. She gets a handful of calls about them a year. Deer are not looking to put down roots in Cap Hill or anything. They're just passing through, the ecologist said.

The critters use what Vargas-Madrid calls "wildlife corridors" -- the creek and river trails, for example -- to travel around. Often, the deer are following a food source.

"It's just easy for a deer to get misplaced and end up in a residential neighborhood," she said. "It's not that they intend to go that route, it's just that when they are using those wildlife corridors ... it's easy to get off course."

"Enjoy it from a distance and let it work its way out," she said.

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