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Protecting wildlife at Eagle Falls and Anaconda Hills Golf Courses

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Posted at 2:44 PM, Jun 26, 2024

GREAT FALLS — As spring and summer unfold in Montana, nature brings forth an abundance of new life, including numerous fawns. While these baby deer can be a delightful sight, their presence necessitates a heightened awareness and respect from humans to ensure their safety and well-being.

Jeff Stange, general manager of Eagle Falls and Anaconda Hills Golf Courses, shared his thoughts on the wildlife: "We get some pretty neat wildlife here, and we're very protective of the wildlife we have on the property, especially for our fawns. These little ones aren't very big, they get very playful, and they literally just bounce around the property. They're funny to watch, and it's cool to see their personalities develop."

However, the joy of observing these fawns has been marred by unfortunate incidents. In 2023, at least four fawns were lost, partially due to their mothers abandoning them after contact with humans.

"So last year we had some scenarios where the fawns were literally a couple of hours old, and people wanted to get close by and take pictures," Stange explained. "We did have some people go over and actually pet the fawns, and then their mothers just never came back to them. So we had four or five that we lost last year."

In response, the golf courses have implemented measures to prevent such tragedies this year.

"We started putting signage up and having conversations with our customers before they went out," Stange said. "This year, we've been even more proactive. Before we got into the season with a lot of fawns around, we put up signs and started those conversations with customers early. The signs have proven to be a good starting point for that conversation, and we haven't lost a fawn yet this year. I think we have seven or eight on the property. The two back here behind us right now are probably two weeks old."

The presence of wildlife at the golf courses brings a sense of nature and joy to many visitors. However, it's crucial for everyone to give wildlife, especially baby animals, plenty of space and to enjoy the sights from a distance. Petting or approaching wildlife can lead to their abandonment by their mothers and can disrupt their natural behavior.

"Customers come in daily saying, 'I just saw a fawn being born as I talked to you,'" Stange noted. "Everybody gets pretty excited about it. It’s a fun time of year, and when it comes to the little baby fawns running around, everyone turns into a softie. They come in and say, 'Oh, I just saw the little one, and they’re tiny.'"

In the words of Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks: "If you care, leave it there!"