Killing predators to boost deer
“Lions and ire and bears,” Dec. 14 news story.
In order to support dwindling deer populations, the Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife has given the green light to a pilot study in which predatory animals, such as mountain lions and bears, will be selectively euthanized. The basic rationale for this is that by killing predatory animals, deer populations will increase. This is important to the department because hunting licenses are a primary source of their revenue. In their own words, “We rarely address the ‘should’ question. We primarily address the ‘how.’ ”
Experts in wildlife ecology from Colorado State University have cast significant doubt on the efficacy of the department’s approach, stating that “plans to test the effects of predator removal are not based on science.”
This proposal is strongly opposed by experts and is myopic and cruel. It is not supported by science. Leaders in Colorado government who find this proposal palatable should take a moment to consider the “should” question.
BBB I echo biologists Joel Berger, Kevin Crooks and Barry Noon that the problem with declines in Colorado’s deer population are likely habitat-related, not a result of predators. Agricultural grazing practices have been so destructive that much of the habitat for wild animals has been turned into a weed patch and invasive woody species intrude.
Urbanites need to remember deer and elk originally inhabited the great plains. Now they, along with the predators, have been pushed into mountainous areas devoid of food. These animals now flood into urban areas, not because they like humans, but because they are desperate for food.
The Forest Service, BLM, and Fish and Wildlife have been co-opted by companies that treat natural resources as an extractives industry. Our last great hope is that the die-off of trees due to beetle kill and the depopulation of the Great Plains will allow greater biodiversity to be consciously reintroduced.