Colorado Had Some Very Strange Animal News This Year (And Insect News, And Fish News…)

December 6, 2019

Now that I think about it, it wasn't all that strange. It depends, really, on just how you define strange.

But it was a good amount of news that probably led to several genuine 'hmmmm' and 'huh' sounds. Here's a look back at 10 of our favorites from this year's collection, and our personal strange ranking for each.

10. Trail Runner Fights Off Mountain Lion

David Zalubowski/AP
Colorado trail runner kills mountain lion with bare hands while running on a trail. Nbd.

It's hard to say which is more Colorado: Wearing shorts while you shovel snow or killing a mountain lion with your bare hands while on a casual trail run.

There are two ways you can look at this — the first is, if you hate running, this is a pretty validating sign.

The second is, if you love running, this might serve as motivation to run a lot faster?

🤔 Strange Ranking: Really quite strange

9. How Colorado Deals With Roadkill

Courtesy of Kevin Blecha/Colorado Parks and Wildlife
R.I.P deer, on the side of Highway 114 near Gunnison. Hope to meet you on the other side.

In May, one reader wondered why she was seeing so much roadkill on her way to work.

“Typically, before, there would be a deer and then the next day would it would be gone," she said. "But now I feel like they're always there.”

We thought it was a pretty good question so we looked into it. We found out that while it's not any one crew's job to remove a roadside carcass, you are certainly welcome to take it home yourself (if you've got a permit).

What to do with it after you bring it home? Jerky. Make it into jerky.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Relatively strange

8. The South Platte River Has Plenty of Fish. They Probably Don't Taste Good.

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
A man and his dog. And his South Platte carp.

If you fish in the South Platte River, it's pretty easy to catch a carp. But it's pretty easy to catch a piece of garbage too.

Neither Denver nor the state of Colorado collects any Platte River fish meat samples to determine whether or not they're safe to eat, but they certainly do collect samples of the water, which is filled with lots of things you probably don't want to put in your mouth — including waste from your sink and toilet.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Only strange if you eat it

7. No, Colorado Doesn't Have Grizzly Bears. We Killed Them All.

Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite
And here, at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, we have the bones and pelt of the last grizzly bear killed in Colorado.

The Rocky Mountains of Colorado used to be home to grizzly bears. But wildlife officials declared the beast extinct in Colorado in 1953.

That is, until September 23, 1979. It was the last day of archery elk season when a man named Ed walked right into a grizzly taking a nap.

It didn't go great for Ed — the bear nearly gnawed through his leg — but you should've seen the other guy. Other bear. Actually, you can see the bear. It's in the photo above.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Not very strange, but very disappointing in humanity

6. A Bee Species That May Only Exist In A Certain Area of Colorado

Virginia Scott/CU Boulder Entomologist
Well, what do you know. It's the Prickly Pear Mining bee doing bee things on a cactus flower.

Let's talk about the Prickly Pear Mining Bee for a moment.

It needs prickly pear cacti and sandstone to survive. It's basically bald. It's tiny. It's black and red, and one of 950 bee species living in Colorado.

So unless you live among prickly pear cacti and sandstone in Boulder County, the Prickly Pear Mining Bee is probably not what stung you. More likely that it was the Prickly Pear margarita you had last night.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Eh, sort-of strange

5. The Dogs That Sniff You At DIA Aren't Sniffing You For Marijuana

David Zalubowski/AP
A security officer guides his dog along a long line of travelers waiting at a checkpoint in Denver International Airport early Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016, in Denver.

In Colorado, police dogs trained to sniff for marijuana are only allowed to sniff for marijuana if there's probable cause.

So what are the dogs in the security line at Denver International Airport sniffing for?

Bombs.

If a human TSA agent catches you with marijuana, you'll likely be asked to simply throw it away. If a TSA dog catches you with a bomb, we can't promise the same will happen. But it sounds like a public garbage can is not the best place to dispose of that.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Smells a little strange

4. Longhorn Runs Into Colorado Springs Bank

Dan Boyce/CPR News
A small herd of cattle lumbers down the street in Colorado Springs during an annual parade, one where cows can take in all that Tejon St. has to offer.

In August, a wayward longhorn briefly ran into the Great Western Bank in downtown Colorado Springs after breaking free from the rest of the herd during an otherwise nice and organized parade.

I won't say these kinds of things are the reason CPR News hired a southern Colorado reporter, but it certainly doesn't hurt that case.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Well, that was strange

3. Ralphie V Retires After Running For 12 CU Football Seasons

Courtesy of Dylan Bernstein
Run, Ralphie, run!

Mascots retire, too. And I'm not talking about the people inside the costume. I'm talking about the actual animal.

Like Ralphie V, the 1,200-pound buffalo mascot of CU football that, for the past 12 seasons, has hot-footed across the field during each home game.

But in November, it was apparent that Ralphie V's hooves were getting too hot. She had become too strong and too fast for the student handlers, which signaled to them it was time for her retire.

Ralphie V will spend the rest of her days grazing on a private, top-secret ranch. We hope she'll get to travel and spend more time with her family as well.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Sad, but not too strange

2. What's With All The Cicadas?

Wikimedia Commons
A dog day cicada, a common species in Colorado.

There may still be snow on the street (or sidewalk) from the most recent storm, but it wasn't that long ago when it was hot out and cicadas had emerged, buzzing loudly — dare I say brazenly — across the state.

Why so many? Because their cicada parents, five years ago, were able to lay a bunch of cicada eggs. Those cicada eggs successfully spent years growing underground, until 2019, when they apparently came into their own and decided to show up.

I suppose in 2023, we'll see just how successful this year's cicada spawn is.

🤔 Strange Ranking: More gross than strange

1. Denver Culls (Kills) City Geese, Sends Meat to Hungry Families

City Park Canada Geese CullKevin Beaty/Denverite
Hundreds of Canada geese in City Park take their last honks.

We've all stepped on their excrement. Or have waited at a crosswalk for dozens of them to slowly waddle through. And it's not you're imagination — there are tons of them in Denver parks.

Too many, in fact. This is why Denver Parks and Wildlife earlier this year grabbed about 300 geese — far from all the geese in the park — and carted them away to a processing center to be killed and turned into meals for hungry households, somewhere in Colorado.

The culling proved a controversial effort, but officials are considering it next year as part of goose population management.

This seems like a good time as any to point out that a single bird produces about a pound of poop each day. It could be argued that that's as strange as it gets.

🤔 Strange Ranking: Strange as all h*ck