Published: March 1, 2016 By

Hawk in Boulder

CU-Boulder attracts all kinds of visitors

When wild animals call at CU-Boulder, especially big ones, Edward von Bleichert (EnvCon’94) is among the first to notice.

As CU’s environmental operations manager, he’s in charge of monitoring about 1,200 acres of university property for noteworthy animal visitors and helping accommodate them or arranging for smooth exits.

In 2015, several large animals wandered onto campus, including, on separate occasions, black bears that climbed into trees — one just outside the engineering center. A picture of one of the bears, tranquilized and falling onto safety mats, caught the attention of CNN and the Huffington Post and briefly became an Internet sensation.

In August, a young female moose sauntered through the ponds of CU’s South Campus for 10 days before leaving on its own.

Over the years von Bleichert and his team have encountered elk, raccoons, mountain lions, snakes, bats, birds of prey, prairie dogs, foxes and beavers, among others. One time a marmot, a mammal that prefers elevations above 10,000 feet, appeared. Another time a giant snapping turtle blocked a bike path.

More typically, von Bleichert and his team spend their days relocating pesky raccoons and burrowing prairie dogs, or controlling pests — mosquitos, rodents, ants and stinging and biting insects such as wasps or horseflies.

Whenever human safety permits, von Bleichert does his best to make wildlife comfortable at CU.

“There is no reason a campus of this nature, with all its great trees, riparian areas and natural areas, shouldn’t be able to support healthy and diverse populations of wildlife,” he says. “It’s one of the things that makes this campus so special.”

Photo by Ed von Bleichert