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Neighborhoods tracking wildlife by sharing home surveillance videos

Wildlife officials hope people identify dangers
Posted at 6:12 PM, Oct 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-02 00:18:30-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — We live at a time when more people have access to home surveillance cameras than ever before. While these cameras are designed to stop crooks, in Colorado Springs the increasing amount of wildlife caught on camera is leading to some important discussions between neighbors.

Wildlife officers say people don't send them as much surveillance video as you might think, but during our 3 month investigation we noticed on neighborhood apps and social media wildlife sightings are being shared all the time. Everything from large bucks coming to the door, to more dangerous sightings like bears in trash cans and mountain lions prowling through neighborhoods both day and night. Sharing this video is helping people be more aware of potential dangers and also providing wildlife officials with information they wouldn't have without these sightings.

“I heard all of a sudden, holy cow! That the mountain lion went on right across our patio right there recorded on ring doorbell,” said Colorado Springs resident Jody Cameron.

After seeing the video Cameron quickly shared this shocking mountain lion sighting on social media. She couldn't believe this big cat was prowling through her northeast Colorado Springs neighborhood at 3 in the afternoon. She says video evidence from her doorbell surveillance camera provided an important warning that could've easily been missed.

“It does make you aware and maybe make some changes in your house as far as you know doors being locked or garages being closed, but I think you take it in stride and you don't alarm everybody, but it's good to have the information,” said Cameron.

The Neighbors App allows people with ring surveillance systems to share videos with people who live nearby.

“I think the main thing that this does is reinforce what we've been saying the entire time which is that these animals are here," said Colorado Parks and Wildlife Manager Frank McGee.

Wildlife officials say increasing number of bear and mountain lion sighting videos being shared in Colorado Springs provides important evidence as they track the habits and movement of these potentially dangerous animals.

“We're trying to track these kind of sightings and conflicts with bears and lions in particular more so than we ever have and I know we've reached nearly 5,000 calls statewide since April 1st. I think the other part of this is that I don't think most people had a very good understanding of just how many of these kinds of issues are happening around the state,” said McGee.

Bears don't appear to be camera shy, as these animals are appearing on home surveillance cameras on a regular basis this time of year. Nikki Jansen found out what that's like first hand as she was putting her child to bed last week.

"I went out and saw that I had a notification for a movement on my security camera and I checked out the camera and no sooner than two minutes after I put her to bed did we see the big bear not less than two feet from my house is pretty scary,” said Jansen.

If your security cameras do spot a bear in your yard-- wildlife officers want you to pay close attention to their ears. If you notice tags, this is the kind of sighting they want to know about.

“If a bear has been ear tagged that means it's been handled before and it could be that it was a bear that we put out as a cub so we had a bear you know again maybe we just need to try to get a little further away from town or at the bear that was taken from town to remote area and has come back to town,” said McGee.

Regular bear sightings have been a cause for concern lately in Colorado Springs.

"They're getting ready for hibernation and they're up and feeding 20 out of 24 hours a day and they're putting on 20000 calories a day in order to get ready for their big sleep this winter," said McGee.

With the emerging presence of security video showing just how active wild animals are in Colorado Springs neighborhoods both wildlife officials and homeowners who share these videos hope it will make a difference in how people think about the wildlife that is always close by.

“People share because it's fascinating. I think you don't see those previously didn't see those previously because you didn't have the cameras to show you that was happening. It doesn't mean it wasn't happening so I think it's just for curiosity's sake and then again just a little bit of awareness," said Cameron.

Something to keep in mind about mountain lions, wildlife officials say anywhere you see deer roam there's a potential for mountain lions.

In Colorado Springs alone wildlife officials say they've already received nearly 500 bear calls this year. In response, city leaders are expected to take up an ordinance in the next few weeks that would require changes for securing trash west of i-25.