The floodwaters that destroyed homes and roads around Boulder County also ravaged animal habitat.

Representatives of public and private wildlife agencies are still assessing the impact of the flood on the region's wildlife, but it appears that smaller animals bore the brunt.

The Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center has received reports of "tons and tons" of dead birds, said Jenny Bryant, volunteer and outreach manager for the center.

Birds' feathers tend to lose their waterproofing in the heavy, sustained rains that pounded the area last week, and that leaves them susceptible to hypothermia. Their food sources are also disrupted by the flooding, and some birds are starving.

Georgia Anderson, left, and Sheila Holliday evaluate an injured crow that was brought to Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lyons on Thursday.
Georgia Anderson, left, and Sheila Holliday evaluate an injured crow that was brought to Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Lyons on Thursday. (Mark Leffingwell)

Bryant said people can help by keeping their bird feeders stocked and putting out clean water.

The center has taken in numerous baby squirrels who were washed out of their nests and separated from their mothers, Bryant said.

Fish and other aquatic life, ironically, are also struggling in the wake of the flood, said Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Parks and Wildlife.

The amount of silt and debris in the water makes it harder for fish to get oxygen from the water, and many fish were simply stranded on land as the flood waters receded.

Aquatic biologists are visiting waterways to assess the scope of the impact and make decisions about stocking later in the season.


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But many wild animals have ways of surviving floods.

Larger mammals tend to move to higher ground in advance of rising waters.

"They're very aware of the sounds and what is going on," Churchill said. "It's similar to a fire (in which animals sense changes in heat and sound). They have very highly attuned senses and are aware of things usually before people are."

Boulder Urban Wildlife Conservation Coordinator Valerie Matheson said the mother bear and two cubs who have become wildlife celebrities in Boulder have been spotted since the flood near Baseline Road and 14th Street, and she hasn't seen evidence of other large mammal deaths.

Prairie dogs construct portions of the burrow at higher elevations, and those form air pockets where the animals can wait out the flood, even if much of the burrow is under water.

Those measures only go so far.

Matheson said a prairie dog colony near the city's wastewater treatment plant on 75th Street is still under water, and those animals are presumed drowned.

However, prairie dogs have been spotted going about their normal activities at Boulder's Valmont Park and near Longmont's Lake McIntosh, both areas that were under water.

Even affected animal populations are expected to bounce back.

"Most animals are pretty resourceful," Bryant said. "If they made it out of the flood, they figure out ways to survive."