Wildlife Habitat Preservation, Creation & Enhancement

Materials and Tools needed varies by project.

If you would like to attract and provide a healthy home for wildlife, you need to ensure that the following interconnected elements are in place on your property:

Shelter/ cover
Connections (corridors and patches)

Different species have different specific needs, but they require all of these elements to survive and thrive.

If there are animals you want on your land, but others you don’t (such as bears), please see the Unwanted Wildlife Strategy Sheet and avoid some of the recommendations on this sheet, such as planting berry-producing shrubs.

The following will provide good quality habitat on your land for wildlife:

Provide as many food sources on your land as possible.

  • Keep or add pines / conifers; pine cones provide food for squirrels and a variety of birds.
  • Keep or add berry producing shrubs for birds and other animals. Other native shrubs such as mountain mahogany provide food for deer.
  • The nectar of wildflowers is a good food source for bees, hummingbirds & other pollinators.
  • Meadows provide food for elk and other grazers. Minimize mowing and intensive livestock grazing to allow for the growth of flowers and tall grasses.
  • Plant native grasses and wildflowers to add additional food sources.

Provide easy access to as many water sources on your land as possible.

  • Minimize barriers between wildlife habitat and water.
  • If possible, provide an unfrozen, open water container for birds during the winter.

Preserving multiple types of shelter where wildlife can rest, nest, and hide from predators is essential for their survival.

  • Preserve tall trees, even dead ones, wherever safely possible as nesting habitat for birds and bats and perching areas for raptors. Planting seedlings in open areas will provide future habitat for birds.
  • Avoid removing dense patches of shrubs – they provide shelter for deer, their fawns and small mammals. Expand existing shrub patches by planting additional native shrubs.
  • Grazing livestock can eliminate willows and other woody vegetation that hang over water-providing shelter for beavers and fish. Restricting livestock to outside of the riparian area or to 1-2 access points allows for the growth of healthy stands of woody vegetation.
  • Provide hiding places for rabbits and other small mammals – allow tall grasses / wildflowers to grow and leave unmowed. Un-mowed meadows also provide nesting areas for grassland birds.

Animals need to move freely from food to shelter to water without barriers. These connections likely go beyond just your property.

The following actions will help preserve the existing wildlife habitat on your land:

  • Preserve a minimum width of 25 feet of woody vegetation and tall grasses along streambanks.
  • Do not mow to the top of banks (leave a wide buffer).
  • Plant trees and shrubs in gaps between existing vegetation to allow for continuous travel corridors.
  • Minimize intense livestock grazing on streambanks.
  • Minimize barriers, such as roads, between riparian areas and surrounding meadow and shrub land habitat for deer and other animals.
  • Locate fences to avoid restricting wildlife movement and harming wildlife. (See Bird Conservancy of the Rockies resource for more information.)

Additional Resources for Wildlife Habitats

Information about specific species and about wildlife corridors in general go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Webpage

Additional information on native vegetation to plant for wildlife habitat can be found: Audubon Rockies – Regional Office of the National Audubon Society

Bird Conservancy of the Rockies

Colorado Native Plant Society – Gardening with Native plants

Colorado State University Extension