Don’t kill predators; protect habitat
As an outdoor recreation business owner with a brand that is defined by the values and health of our natural places, I am deeply disturbed by two proposed studies by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to kill black bears and mountain lions in designated areas to see if mule deer fawn survival rates increase.
Mule deer decline is not isolated to Colorado, the decline is happening across the West.
We already know that killing native carnivores will not increase mule deer populations. The best available science has shown us that killing carnivores to increase mule deer populations is unlikely to produce positive results. According to numerous sources (including studies done by CPW) the key to survival is the protection of breeding females, access to suitable habitat — especially in the winter, and access to adequate nutrition. In fact, black bears are 90 percent vegetarian and only occasionally and opportunistically prey on ungulates.
It is well understood that CPW has a shortfall of funding and that increasing deer populations could result in more hunting license revenue. However, to propose a plan that would kill mountain lions and bears through increased trophy-hunting licenses, and by contracting some of the killing to a federal program that kills an average of more than 3.2 million animals every year, we embrace an ethic that sends the wrong message of how Colorado values wildlife. It sends the message that our native species are merely a resource for the department.
The real problems our mule deer face are not from native carnivores, but from the continuous habitat loss due to encroachment from increased human activity. Anyone who lives in Colorado can see and feel the increased congestion on our highways and the loss of our once open lands that are disappearing with new homes and urban sprawl.
We need to establish migration corridors that are protected habitats, while placing reasonable limits on new residential and energy development that destroys and fragments vital wildlife habitat.
Additionally, we need new thoughtful and innovative ideas to broaden CPW’s funding base beyond traditional hunting and fishing dollars.
This month our appointed wildlife commissioners will decide on these misguided and scientifically unfounded proposals. You can email the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org or attend the public meeting on Wednesday, December 14th at the Fort Collins Marriott, 350 East Horsetooth Road, Fort Collins from 8:30 AM to 12:45 PM.