Posts Tagged ‘Conservation’

COLORADO’S WILD TURKEYS ARE THRIVING

November 22, 2010

DENVER, Colo. – Colorado’s wild turkey lovers have something to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.  There are more wild turkeys living in Colorado than at any time before.

Once nearly wiped out in the United States, wild turkeys have made an impressive comeback thanks to efforts of state game and fish agencies and non-profit sportsmen’s groups like the National Wild Turkey Federation.

In Colorado, the Division of Wildlife began working on strategies to increase the turkey population in the early 1980s.  Since then, turkeys have been released, or colonized on their own, into most of the available habitat in the state.  Wild turkeys now live in 53 of the state’s 63 counties. Colorado’s turkey program ranks among the most successful species conservation efforts in the agency’s history.

“Right now we have more wild turkeys in more places in Colorado than ever occurred here historically,” said Ed Gorman, small game manager for the Division of Wildlife.  “The success of turkeys in Colorado is primarily due to their adaptability and high reproductive capability.”

Turkeys were plentiful in the North America at the time the Pilgrims landed, but over-harvest and habitat loss nearly wiped out America’s wild turkey population by the early 1900s.  Today, wild turkeys are once again abundant across the nation due to modern turkey management programs like the DOW’s.

“Wild turkeys can be found in areas where they did not occur as recently as five years ago, said Gorman.  “This has created new hunting opportunities for sportsmen.”

On November 10, the Colorado Wildlife Commission voted to allow over-the-counter turkey hunting licenses on private land for all but three management units (91, 92 and 96) east of Interstate 25.  The change goes into effect in 2011. According to the International Hunter Education Association, turkey hunting is the fastest-growing form of hunting in the United States.

Colorado is home to two subspecies of wild turkey: the native Merriam’s and the Rio Grande, which was introduced to the state in 1980.  The Merriam’s wild turkey is primarily found in open meadows and in ponderosa, oak brush and pinion juniper stands in mountainous zones west of Interstate 25.  The Rio Grande species inhabit cottonwood and riparian areas adjacent to agricultural lands in the eastern portion of the state.

“Wild birds are cunning, wary birds,” Gorman said. “They have excellent eyesight and are capable of flying for short distances at speeds up to 50 mph and running at speeds up to 25 mph to escape predators. These characteristics have been bred out of the game-farm raised birds and commercial turkeys served at Thanksgiving dinner.”

Wild turkeys mate in the early spring. Courtship usually begins while turkeys are still flocked together in wintering areas.  Males attract females through a variety of calls, struts and displays including fanning their tail feathers.

After mating, the hens begin searching for a nest site and laying eggs.  In most areas, nests are found in a shallow dirt depression, surrounded by moderately woody vegetation that conceals the nest.

Hens lay a clutch of 10 to 12 eggs during a two-week period, usually laying one egg per day. She will incubate her eggs for about 28 days, occasionally turning and rearranging them until they are ready to hatch.

A newly-hatched flock must be ready to leave the nest within 12 to 24 hours to feed.  Young turkeys, known as poults, eat insects, berries and seeds, while adults will eat anything from acorns and berries to insects and small reptiles. Turkeys usually feed in early morning and in the afternoon.

NEWS EDITORS: A pdf file about Colorado’s wild turkeys suitable for use as a sidebar graphic is available at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/NR/rdonlyres/F233B0C3-3F1C-431F-9BF0-0294AC1BF826/0/WildTurkeyMidSch.pdf

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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Fundraising for “nobel” causes…

May 21, 2009

This is sort of a rant. I got to thinking about it after reading this in the Denver Post. For years I worked as an activist for several conservation organizations as well as some with political agenda’s. One day while working near Deckers myself and a few other volunteers were talking as we cleared brush.

At some point I made the comment that the group that we were working for was getting as bad as the NRA. Specifically, that you never heard from them without some desperate plea for yet  more money. The entire world would come to an end if you didn’t donate even more money.

The sensationalism that seemed to be requisite for each of these pleadings was always dramatic. I remember thinking once that I knew what retired psyops people did after retiring from the military; they went to work as fundraisers.

Don’t get me wrong, I am well aware of the fact that it takes money to get things done in nearly all cases no matter what the project is. I don’t mind one iota that I gave money to the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Habitat is a key factor in wildlife sustainability, and  in my mind, both of these organizations are top notch. As is the Isaac Walton League, and Gun Owners of America.

What ticks me off though is when you give money to this or that group, and you never see any results. Heck! You never even see them trying! I could easily understand trying, and failing. Sometimes things just do not work. But? When you have an organization that basically rolls over and gives in to the opposition I get pretty angry about it. When the NRA rolled over on the issue of supporting ex post facto law via the Lautenberg Domestic Violence Act I blew my top, and that is putting it mildly. I’ve not given them a penny since, and I will not ever support them monetarily until they put the full force of the NRA into getting that abomination off the books. That, is why I support Gun Owners of America to the hilt as regular readers know. Trout Unlimited has pulled similar shenanigans over the years, and I never donate to them any longer as well.This list could go on, and on…

When it comes to donating for causes the phrase caveat emptor simply cannot be overstressed. The recent unveilings about ACORN shows that shysters come from every bent and cause.

Conservationists..?

February 17, 2009

One would think that the Associated Press could distinguish between conservationist’s and preservationists, much less eco-terrorist’s. What follows is so filled with misinformation that it is difficult finding a place to begin. Gray wolves are endangered? Not where ariel control is being used, not at all. Coyotes? You have got to be kidding, period. Black Bears..? Again, it is simply ridiculous to think that Black bears are endangered. Why can’t these people be honest? They just hate killing animals, even when those animals are a clear and present threat to humans. No doubt they will also make the claim that this is some sort of sport hunting as opposed to culling , or removing human threats.

RENO, Nev. — Conservationists argue in a new report that U.S. taxpayers should stop subsidizing a $100 million program that kills more than 1 million wild animals annually, a program ranchers and farmers have defended for nearly a century as critical to protecting their livestock from predators.

Citing concerns about the economy and the potential for a fresh look at the decades-old controversy in the new Obama administration, 115 environmental groups signed onto a recent letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack urging him to abolish the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Wildlife Services.

The American Sheep Industry Association, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and more than 70 other livestock production and state agriculture offices in 35 states countered with a letter citing more than $125 million in annual losses to the sheep, goat and cattle industry as a result of predation.

Now, as Congress tries to tackle the looming federal budget crisis, a new report by conservationists entitled “War on Wildlife” being made public on Tuesday documents significant increases in recent years in both the number of carnivores killed and the size of the agency’s budget — $117 million in 2007, up 14 percent from the average from 2004-06.

“We ask Mr. Obama to get out his scalpel and protect the public’s hard-earned dollars from this unscrupulous agency,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of carnivore protection for WildEarth Guardians based in Bozeman, Mont.

The vast majority of the 121,524 animals killed in 2007 were coyotes — 90,326. But the trapping, poisoning and aerial gunning of the predators also is taking an increasing, unintended toll on other creatures, including 511 black bears and 340 endangered gray wolves in 2007, according to a copy of the report obtained by The Associated Press.

Authors of the 108-page report being presented to USDA, members of Congress and the White House on Tuesday described it as the first comprehensive, national, independent assessment of the agency in 40 years.

“While most people enjoy observing wildlife, Wildlife Services massacres our nation’s wildlife mainly to benefit agribusiness,” Keefover-Ring said.

“They’re killing more and more predators, and more endangered species and using more tax resources,” she said.

The result is a “sledgehammer approach” to wildlife management that in many cases could be replaced by non-lethal alternatives, the report concluded.

More than 40,000 of the coyotes killed in 2007 were in just four states — Texas (19,123), Wyoming (10,915), California (7,759) and Nevada (7,447).

In addition to concerns about the fiscal and biological impacts, the use of helicopters and small planes to fly low enough for contracted sharp shooters to pick off the coyotes has resulted in plane crashes killing 10 and injuring 28 from 1979-2007, the report said.

Aides to Vilsack referred questions about the program to USDA’s Animal, Plant, Health Inspection Service, which oversees Wildlife Services.

USDA spokeswoman Carol Bannerman said Vilsack intends to review all of USDA’s programs but that it would be weeks before he had any idea about possible changes he wants to make.

Bannerman said the federal agency only kills predators when livestock owners or state officials request their assistance. She said most of the time those private individuals or state agencies provide about half the funding for the effort.

“From our perspective, we certainly feel that we have a responsibility to respond to those requests,” she said from APHIS headquarters in Riverdale, Md.

Bannerman said the agency is required to review each individual project under the regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act “and move ahead only if there would be no long-term negative impact on the environment.”

“With that mandate … we can give people an outlet to deal with a problem that if they took into their own hands could have longer-term negative impacts,” she said.

The agricultural commodities’ groups said in their letter to Vilsack about a month ago that livestock losses to predation cost producers more than $125 million a year.

“Without non-lethal and lethal predator control by Wildlife Services, these numbers could easily double or even triple,” said Skye Krebs, an Oregon rancher and president of the Public Lands Council, which spearheaded the letter along with the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

“The agency provides a means for striking a balance in the wildlife-livestock interface, including limiting the spread of disease from wildlife,” Krebs said.

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On the Net:

WildEarth Guardians: http://www.wildearthguardians.org

USDA Wildlife Services: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association: http://www.beef.org

SOURCE

Snow Goose Hunting Seminar in Lamar‏

February 4, 2009

SNOW GOOSE HUNTING SEMINAR IN LAMAR

LAMAR, Colo. — The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) will host a Snow Goose Hunting Clinic at the DOW Office in Lamar on Sat., Feb. 21 from 1-4 p.m.  There is no cost to attend but participants must pre-register.

DOW biologists will present tips and tricks for hunting snow geese on the eastern plains of Colorado.  Topics will range from the basics for beginners, to techniques for the seasoned hunter.

Subjects covered include goose identification and biology, how to hunt geese by understanding their daily movements, how weather and terrain affect geese, use of decoys, and much more.

The program will be geared toward adults.

The DOW Lamar office is located 2500 S. Main St. (about two hours east of Pueblo on Hwy 50). For more information about the hunting seminar, or to register, call Linda Groat (719) 336-6608.

Colorado is one of several states that participate in a late light goose season. Relaxed regulations allow for unlimited take of snow geese east of I-25 from Feb. 16 thru April 30.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, populations of greater and lesser snow geese and Ross’s geese have grown to historic highs.  Collectively called “light geese,” they are causing massive destruction to their summer home on the fragile arctic tundra to the point it may take decades to recover.

The current breeding population of mid-continent light geese exceeds five million birds.  This is an increase of more than 300 percent since the mid-1970s.  The management goal for mid-continent light geese is to reduce the population by 50 percent.  Since implementation of the liberal harvest regulations in 1999, the harvest of light geese has more than doubled but the population goal has yet to be attained.

The hunting clinic is part of the seventh annual High Plains Snow Goose Festival.  For more information about the Snow Goose Festival, visit their website at www.highplainssnowgoose.com.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Attracting Mountain Lions

February 4, 2009

Living with wildlife is an ongoing theme anymore. While this article deals with Mountain Lions it applies to bears and other wildlife as well.

YOU MAY BE ATTRACTING MOUNTAIN LIONS TO YOUR PROPERTY WITHOUT EVEN KNOWING IT


COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado’s abundant wildlife is often cited by residents as one of the things they like best about living here. During the mid and late 20th century, Colorado’s growth brought people in closer contact with deer, elk and other wildlife species, to the delight of a new generation of wildlife watchers.

But one of these wild animals is the mountain lion, a powerful predator that while secretive by nature, has become increasingly visible in recent years.  And as some Coloradans have discovered, when mountain lions follow deer and other wildlife prey, it brings them into to people’s neighborhoods.

Although most people will never see a mountain lion in their lifetime, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) says the number of reports of mountain lion sightings has been gradually increasing.

“Attacks on people are rare,” said Jerry Apker, a carnivore specialist with the Colorado Division of Wildlife. “But attacks on dogs and cats are becoming more common.”  DOW policy is very clear when it comes to lions that pose a threat to human safety.  They must be destroyed.

While a spate of lion sighting in some Front Range neighborhoods have generated headlines recently, DOW officials stress that these big cats can be found almost anywhere in the state where a suitable population of deer exists.

In the past year, the DOW destroyed or moved mountain lions from Durango, Canon City, Grand Junction, Colorado Springs, Boulder, suburban Denver, and various other communities throughout the state.

In one case in the spring of 2008, a mountain lion was found hiding in a barn in eastern El Paso County about 50 miles east of the foothills.  DOW officers tranquilized the cat and moved it back to the mountains.  In another 2008 incident, a man walking along a rural road near New Castle was forced to shoot a lion that threatened the man and his wife. Several weeks after the first New Castle incident, a second lion in the area was killed by DOW officers after the lion killed a horse.

In July 2008, the DOW killed two lions in Durango.  Both were young females that wouldn’t leave people’s yards in town.  Their behavior was on the aggressive side so the DOW decided that killing the lions for safety reasons was the prudent choice.  In Cortez, a lion jumped from a tree toward a young man on a riding lawnmower.  The lion missed.  The DOW used dogs to tree that cat, and it was destroyed.

“Roughly 65 percent of Colorado is classified as good mountain lion habitat,” said Apker. “The only place mountain lions cannot live for an extended period of time is where there is no prey.”

There are a variety of reasons for increased mountain lion sighting.  One is that more humans live and recreate where mountain lions and their primary prey, mule deer, exist.  Other explanations could be related to changes in lion distribution and movement patterns, increasing populations, or the simple fact that people are more apt to report sightings.

The vast majority of sightings happen very quickly and end when the lion runs away.  But wildlife managers are concerned that more and more reports are coming from populated areas where mountain lions are finding plentiful food supplies.

DON’T FEED THE DEER

According to Apker, feeding deer and other wildlife draws prey animals into residential areas – which means mountain lions are likely to follow.  “Sometimes people become a little too anxious to see wildlife and attempt to bring animals closer by putting out food,” he said.

It is illegal to feed deer in Colorado, but sometimes people do it anyway because they are unaware of the problems it causes.  “Deer are more than capable of finding plenty of natural food to eat on their own,” Apker explained.  “Feeding deer congregates them in back yards and puts everyone in the neighborhood at risk because deer are one of the main food sources for mountain lions.  Mountain lions usually avoid people, but even with human activity nearby, mountain lions are more likely to stay in an area where deer congregate.”

When a lion kills a large animal like a deer, they consume part of the meat and conceal the rest by covering it with dirt or leaves.  They return again later to eat more.  As long as the meat does not spoil, the lion will remain in the vicinity until it is consumed.  That might be up to a week during the winter.

If you find a partially eaten carcass on your property, call your local DOW office and they will safely remove the carcass.  This will prompt the lion to leave the area.  In some cases, DOW officers use “negative conditioning” techniques to haze cats away from populated areas.  One method is shooting the lion with bean bags or rubber buckshot.  It sends a strong message to reinforce the cat’s natural instinct to avoid people.

One of the tools the DOW uses to manage cougar populations is controlled hunting.  Licensed hunters legally kill about 350 mountain lions a year.  Another 40 or so are killed each year by car accidents, or by state or federal wildlife officers responding to calls of lions taking pets or killing livestock.

PROTECTING PETS

Like most predators, mountain lions are opportunistic.  In addition to deer, mountain lions also eat raccoons, fox, rabbits, and other mammals.  They do not differentiate between domestic pets and livestock that also make easy prey.

Pets that are allowed to roam free are in danger of being killed by lions, but also by coyotes or foxes.  Pet owners with outside dogs are encouraged to install tops on kennels to prevent predators from jumping in.

Although it is a common belief that cougars are only found in the back country, mountain lions have been known to visit nearly every part of Colorado from time to time, including occasional sightings on the eastern plains.

“I talk to a lot of people who ask me why the Division of Wildlife doesn’t move all of the lions away from the where people live,” said Apker.  “Lions are destroyed if wildlife managers determine the cat is a threat to public safety, but it is impractical to try to move every mountain lion because as long as there is food to eat it is only a matter of time before another mountain lion will move in to fill the vacated territory.”

Male mountain lions are territorial.  Some individuals live in small territories where prey is plentiful.  Other lions are constantly on the move in territories that cover hundreds of miles.

The fate of moved lions is poorly understood.  There is reason to believe that some mountain lions die after they are moved.  They could be killed by other lions where they are released, may return, or die trying.  Colorado researchers are currently studying lion movements to learn more about the effectiveness of relocating them.

Mountain lions hunt day or night, but are most active during hours of darkness.   Males will travel as much as 25 miles a night in search of food.

Lions are generally solitary.  Offspring can be born during any time of the year and will stay with their mother for approximately one year before heading off on their own.


TIPS FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN MOUNTAIN LION COUNTRY:
DON’T FEED WILDLIFE: By feeding deer, raccoons or other wildlife in your yard, you may inadvertently attract mountain lions, which prey upon them.
LANDSCAPE FOR SAFETY: Remove dense and/or low-lying vegetation that provides good hiding places for mountain lions, especially around children’s play areas.  Make it difficult for mountain lions to approach a yard unseen.
INSTALL OUTDOOR LIGHTING: Keep the house perimeter well lit at night – especially along walkways – to keep any approaching mountain lions visible.
KEEP PETS SECURE: Roaming pets are easy prey for hungry mountain lions. Outside kennels should have a secure top.  Do not leave pet food outside; this can attract foxes, raccoons, rodents, and other mountain lion prey.
KEEP LIVESTOCK SECURE: Where practical, place livestock in enclosed sheds and barns at night, and be sure to secure all outbuildings.
KEEP CHILDREN SAFE: Keep a close watch on children whenever they play outdoors. Talk with children about mountain lions and teach them what to do if they encounter one.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A MOUNTAIN LION:
DO NOT APPROACH A LION: Most mountain lions try to avoid people.  Human encounters are generally brief.  Give them a way to escape.  Mountain lions become aggressive if they feel they are cornered.
DO NOT RUN FROM A LION: Running may stimulate a mountain lion’s instinct to chase. Instead, stand and face the animal. Make eye contact. If there are small children, pick them up if possible so they don’t panic and run. Although it may be awkward, pick them up without bending over or turning away from the mountain lion.
STAND TALL AND APPEAR LARGE: Raise your arms. Open your jacket if you are wearing one. Again, pick up small children. Throw stones, branches, or whatever you can reach without crouching or turning your back. Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. The idea is to convince the mountain lion that you are not prey and that you may be a danger to it.
FIGHT BACK IF ATTACKED: Many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, binoculars, garden tools and their bare hands. Since a mountain lion usually tries to bite the head or neck, try to remain standing and face the attacking animal.
DO NOT HIKE ALONE: Go in groups, with adults supervising children.
KEEP CHILDREN CLOSE TO YOU: Observations of captive mountain lions reveal that they seem especially drawn to children because they are lower to the ground.  Keep children within your sight at all times.

To learn more about mountain lions, contact your nearest DOW office or www.colorado.gov/wildlife.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

DOW VOLUNTEER PROGRAM GOING STRONG AFTER 15 YEARS

January 12, 2009

Two articles from DOW on this subject. Stop talking, and start walking! Get out there and give them a hand. Heck! It’s fun too!

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Since 1993 people have cleared trails, planted seedlings, banded wild turkeys, spawned trout, mended fences, answered phones, entered data, and counted Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.  What they all have in common is they are volunteers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW).

Over the past 15 years, more than 4,700 individuals and families have donated their free time, muscle, and brain power to help the DOW accomplish its mission to perpetuate wildlife resources and provide people with the opportunity to enjoy wildlife.

“Rapid development and habitat loss have increased the challenges to Colorado’s wildlife and the DOW is fortunate to have a dedicated group of people willing to get up early on cold mornings or work late nights to help the DOW in multiple ways,” said Jena Sanchez, a Volunteer Coordinator from Colorado Springs.  “Volunteer efforts make a huge impact on helping wildlife.  The value of their donated time is over a million dollars a year.  Volunteers help accomplish important work that might not get done otherwise,” she said.

Sanchez conceded that not all of the jobs volunteers assist with are glamorous, but they all have a positive impact for wildlife.  “Counting bighorn sheep and mountain goats sounds neat.  But it means getting up before dawn to climb mountains in sometimes less than ideal weather.  It can be a grueling experience, but by in large every volunteer who does it comes away with a sense of personal gratification that they are making a difference.”

Sanchez said the agency tries to match people with tasks they are comfortable with.  Not everyone wants to get wet spawning fish, get dirty planting trees, or work with youngsters teaching hunting safety and outdoor ethics.  Some volunteers do light office duty, work in customer service centers, serve as campground hosts, or staff information booths at wildlife festivals and trade shows.

The net effect, she said, is that game wardens and biologists get valuable assistance; and hunters, anglers, bird watchers, and other wildlife enthusiasts see the direct benefits in healthier wildlife populations.

Two of the most popular volunteer programs are the “wildlife transport,” and “bear aware” teams.    Every year, hundreds of orphaned or injured animals are transported by volunteers to licensed rehabilitation centers where, whenever possible, they are nursed back to health and released back into the wild.  Some of those same volunteers serve as liaisons in neighborhoods where bears and people share the same environment.  The bear aware volunteers distribute educational materials and instruct homeowners in ways they can minimize conflicts with bears.

All DOW volunteers are required to complete an application form and participate in an orientation session prior to being assigned to project teams.  Additional training may be required in the event the project involves specialized skills.  For more information about the DOW volunteer program, visit the DOW website at: http://www.wildlifestate.co.us/Volunteer.  Or contact one of the four regional Volunteer Coordinators listed below.

In southeastern Colorado including Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Lamar, contact Jena Sanchez (719) 227-5204, jena.sanchez@state.co.us.

In southwest Colorado including Montrose, Gunnison, Durango, and the San Luis Valley contact Jennifer Kleffner at (970) 375-6704, Jennifer.kleffner@state.co.us.

In northwest Colorado including Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Craig, and Steamboat Springs, contact Linda Edwards at (970) 255-6145, linda.edwards@state.co.us.

In northeast Colorado including Denver, Castle Rock, Sterling, and Fort Collins, contact Mary McCormac at (303) 291-7369, mary.mccormac@state.co.us.

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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

OPPORTUNITIES FOR WILDLIFE VOLUNTEERS

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Colorado is home to some of the most diverse wildlife populations in North America.  Since 1993, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) Volunteer Program has provided people the opportunity to contribute their time and talents to help wildlife.

Over the past 15 years, more than 4,750 volunteers have supported the DOW in unique ways, such as counting bighorn sheep and mountain goats, searching for bats near entrances to inactive mines, teaching children and adults to hunt and fish,  doing light office duty, and much more.

This winter, the DOW is holding new volunteer orientation programs across the state to recruit and prepare people for spring and summer projects.

Typical activities include transporting sick and injured wildlife to rehabilitation centers, helping spawn fish, monitoring nest sites for ospreys and eagles, being tour guides at fish hatcheries, State Wildlife Area clean-ups, and a variety of other hands-on projects.  Projects are seasonal and vary by region of the state.

For people interested in public outreach and education opportunities, the projects include teaching people about black bears in neighborhoods where bears are active, and staffing information booths at festivals and trade shows.

New volunteer orientation meetings will be held on the following dates and locations:
Denver, Jan. 21
Pueblo, Jan.  21.
Colorado Springs, Jan. 22.
Fort Collins, Jan. 28
Grand Junction, Feb. 17

To learn more about these or other opportunities to get involved, contact one of the following DOW volunteer coordinators:

In southeastern Colorado including Colorado Springs, Pueblo and Lamar, contact Jena Sanchez (719) 227-5204, jena.sanchez@state.co.us.

In southwest Colorado including Montrose, Gunnison, Durango, and the San Luis Valley contact Jennifer Kleffner at (970) 375-6704, Jennifer.kleffner@state.co.us.

In northwest Colorado including Grand Junction, Glenwood Springs, Aspen, Craig, and Steamboat Springs, contact Linda Edwards at (970) 255-6145, linda.edwards@state.co.us.

In northeast Colorado including Denver, Castle Rock, Sterling, and Fort Collins, contact Mary McCormac at (303) 291-7369, mary.mccormac@state.co.us.

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For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Close Encounters of the cuddly kind…

October 10, 2008

It is once again that time of the year. Hat tip to the DOW for some solid information about coexisting with bears.

BEAR ACTIVITY INCREASES IN THE FALL

Autumn is when black bears become more active, setting the stage for an increase in bear sightings and possibly encounters.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) reminds residents and visitors that bears are searching for food to prepare for the denning season, which begins in early to mid-November. From now until then, bears will look for food wherever they can find it and the result may lead them closer to people or homes.

While Colorado’s bears usually run, rather than confront humans, encounters do occur and people should know a few things about how to react, or better yet, how to avoid an encounter altogether by reducing the likelihood of attracting bears in the first place.

Human injuries caused by bears are rare in Colorado.  In the few cases when people are injured, it usually involves food left where bears can find it, or is the result of a surprise encounter.

When bears become habituated to food left out by people, it can lead to conflicts, property damage, the possibility of injury and eventual destruction of the bear.

The DOW has the following recommendations to reduce the chances of having a close encounter with a black bear on a homeowner’s property:

Do not feed wild animals (It is against the law to feed foxes, coyotes, or bears in Colorado ) and play it safe if you have bird feeders in bear country.  Feeding wildlife, including birds, can draw bears into an area. Once bears become comfortable in an area where they find food, they will continue to return. Bears have an amazing ability to recall areas where food was easily available from year to year.  A “neighborhood bear” can become a real problem for homeowners and neighbors.

Tips for safely feeding birds include: restrict feeding to when bears hibernate, which is generally November through April; avoid bird foods that are particularly attractive for bears, such as sunflower seeds, hummingbird nectar, or suet; bring feeders inside at night or suspend them from high crosswires; and temporarily remove feeders for two weeks if visited by a bear.  Encourage your neighbors to do the same.

Don’t place garbage outside until pick-up day. A 1994 Arizona study discovered that putting trash cans out the morning of the pickup reduced bear visits from 70 percent to less than 5 percent.  Garbage or food items, including pet food, should be stored inside the garage or secure storage shed.  Garage doors should not be left open except for very brief periods during the day.

Keep your distance. If a bear shows up in your backyard, stay calm. From a safe distance, shout at it like you would to chase an unwanted dog.  Children should understand not to run, approach or hide from a bear that wanders into the yard, but, instead, to back away and walk slowly to the house.

Eliminate temptation. Bears that visit areas of human habitation are drawn there by food. Neighbors need to work together to reduce an area’s appeal to bears. Ask local businesses to keep dumpsters closed and bear-proofed (chained or locked shut).  Do not throw table scraps out for animals, and clean your barbecue grill regularly. If you feed pets outdoors, bring leftover food and dishes inside at night.

Bears should not be irrationally feared, nor should they be dismissed as harmless; but they should be respected as large animals with the potential to damage property and injure people if we create environments where they become dependent on human food sources.

For more information and tips on preventing conflicts with bears, visit the DOW’s “Living With Wildlife” Web page at http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeSpecies/LivingWithWildlife/ and click on “Living with Bears in Colorado.”

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE HONORS RANCH OWNERS FOR CONSERVATION WORK

August 10, 2008

Former media magnate Malcolm Forbes was not only a leading innovator in magazine publishing; he also helped to pioneer private-land wildlife management practices in Colorado. To honor the Forbes family’s efforts in wildlife conservation, the Colorado Division of Wildlife recently thanked the Forbes Family for its nearly 40 years of work at the 173,000-acre Forbes-Trinchera and Forbes-Blanca Ranches in the San Luis Valley.

In the fall of 2007 the Forbes family sold the ranch to Louis Bacon, an East Coast resident who owns numerous other parcels of land throughout the United States which are managed for conservation and wildlife purposes. In Colorado, Bacon also owns the 20,000-acre Tercio Ranch that is located southwest of Trinidad.

Bacon has announced that his new property, located in the San Luis Valley, will now be called the Trinchera Ranch and the Blanca Ranch. It will continue to be managed for wildlife, natural resource and environmental values. The ranch  will continue to work cooperatively with the Division of Wildlife on various conservation projects and participate in the DOW’s Ranching for Wildlife program.

“The Colorado Division of Wildlife is grateful to the Forbes family for their wildlife conservation philosophy,” said Tom Spezze, southwest regional manager for the DOW.

“Not only did the family bring great ideas, but they hired an outstanding staff to do the work to make this one of the premier wildlife habitat areas in Colorado.”   Spezze made the remarks at a reception held at the Trinchera Ranch in late July.

Tom Remington, director of the DOW, praised the Forbes ranch for its work on a variety of projects that have helped conservation efforts throughout Colorado. These include: establishing a herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, re-introduction of Rio Grande cutthroat trout, and numerous habitat improvement projects aimed at helping big game populations.

“The ranch is a leader in wildlife conservation work,” Remington said. “The people here proved what can be done. Today, the division of wildlife uses many of the management techniques developed here in projects all over the state.”

Malcolm Forbes purchased the property in 1969 and decided quickly that wildlife should be a priority. Former DOW biologist Errol Ryland was hired to manage the property. Ryland and DOW staff developed the Ranching for Wildlife concept at the ranch. Today, 16 ranches that comprise more than 1 million acres of prime big game habitat participate in the Ranching for Wildlife program.

In the late 1980s, 3,000 domestic sheep were removed from the ranch and 34 Rocky Mountain bighorns were transplanted from British Columbia. Now the herd on the ranch numbers more than 300. Over the years, the ranch has allowed the DOW to trap sheep and move them to other parts of the state.

After Ryland retired in the early 1990s his son, Ty Ryland, took over as ranch manager.   In Dec. 2004, the Forbes family placed approximately 81,400  acres of the Trinchera Ranch under a permanent conservation easement. None of that land will ever be developed. Bacon is now considering placing a conservation easement on the 90,000-acre Blanca Ranch. This portion of the property contains three of Colorado’s 54 famed 14,000-foot mountains – Blanca Peak, Little Bear Peak and Mount Lindsey.

“Mr. Bacon believes that the Blanca Ranch is an unique property and it ought to be protected for future generations,” a spokesperson said.

Christopher Forbes, Malcolm Forbes son, said the family was pleased to find a new owner who was also conservation-minded.   “We couldn’t have found a better conservation steward in America than Louis Bacon,” Forbes said.

Bacon explained that continuing resource conservation on the property is his top priority for the ranch.

“I feel a duty to continue the conservation legacy established by the Forbes Family; and to help us we’ll continue working with the DOW,” Bacon said.

Bacon also said that staffing at the ranch won’t change. The ranch employs about 30 people in Costilla County.

Under the Ranching for Wildlife program, participating owners work to improve habitat, develop wildlife management plans with the DOW, and allow a limited number of public hunters at no charge. In exchange, ranch owners are allowed to set special seasons for private hunters.

Public licenses on the Trinchera Ranch include: 10 bull elk and 75 cow elk; 10 mule deer bucks and 75 does; two big horn rams and nine ewes. The ranch leads about 50 private hunters each year.

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife is the state agency responsible for managing wildlife and its habitat, as well as providing wildlife related recreation. The Division is funded through hunting and fishing license fees, federal grants and Colorado Lottery proceeds through Great Outdoors Colorado.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Mule Deer Study

August 10, 2008

DOW BIOLOGISTS STUDYING MULE DEER AGING

Early results of a mule deer aging study being conducted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife are helping provide insight into the trade-offs between hunt quality and hunting opportunity in southwest Colorado.

The DOW asked hunters to submit teeth from bucks harvested in Game Management Units 54, 61, 62, 80 and 81 during the 2007 big game season. Biologists determine the exact age of a mule deer by counting the annual growth rings present within an animal’s incisors. The DOW sent mailings to 2,065 hunters in 2007 explaining the project and asking them to send teeth from harvested bucks. Last year, 375 teeth were returned.

Biologists plan to continue this research for the next two hunting seasons.

“The return rate in 2007 gave us an excellent sample to start with,” said Brandon Diamond, a terrestrial biologist for the Colorado Division of Wildlife in Gunnison. “There are three management units involved in this project that have contrasting buck-to-doe ratio objectives. GMU 54 has the highest ratio followed by GMUs 61 and 62, and finally GMUs 80 and 81.”

The results show that the age structure of bucks harvested varies between the GMUs, as biologists anticipated. “The purpose of this study is to determine that in units where we manage for high buck-to-doe ratios that hunters actually are taking more older-age-class bucks,” Diamond said.

Biologists are interested in evaluating whether there is an optimum buck-to-doe ratio to which they can manage that maximizes both hunt quality and opportunity. “Hunters across the west love to see big mule deer bucks. But they also want the chance to hunt them on a regular basis. We are trying to find the best middle ground,” Diamond said.

GMU 54, just north of Gunnison, has in recent years become renowned for its mule deer. It is managed for a high buck-to-doe ratio of 40-45 bucks per 100 does; the 2007 post-hunt population estimate was approximately 7,500. Despite the tougher hunting conditions during the 2007 seasons due to unseasonably warm and dry weather, the first-year results of this project are really interesting, Diamond explained.

“In unit 54, the majority of hunters submitted teeth from bucks that were between 3-6 years old.  It appears we have a lot of bucks that are 4 years or older, which should be the case due to our management prescriptions.  Because of current management, hunters can be selective and they are seeing greater numbers of older bucks,” Diamond said.

In GMU 54, bucks up to 9 years old were harvested.

“Maintaining so many older-aged bucks, however, doesn’t come without sacrifice,” Diamond explains. “In many southwest Colorado deer units, deer hunters will have to sit on the sidelines for several years between hunts.

Many hunters would like to hunt deer every year and have the opportunity to harvest a buck four years old or older. The reality is that you can’t have it both ways.”

GMUs 61 and 62 are located on the Uncompahgre Plateau, west of Montrose. This area provides excellent deer habitat. The estimated population is 32,000, and the sex ratio is estimated at 35 bucks per 100 does. Teeth submitted from hunters in 2007 were predominately between 1 and 4 years old; however, some bucks as old as 9 years were harvested.

In GMUs 80 and 81 in the San Luis Valley the deer population is estimated at 5,900 with a buck-to-doe ratio of approximately 24 to 100. Most of the bucks harvested in the area were from 1 to 3 years old, with a few bucks as old as 7 years.

The DOW is urging hunters in these units to send in teeth from the harvested animals, particularly in GMUs 62 and 61 which had the lowest overall response in 2007. Overall, Diamond hopes to collect about 1,000 teeth as the study continues for the next two years. This project will also help managers evaluate the changes in mule deer populations following the severe winter of 2007-2008.

“We have made it as easy as possible to participate in this project, so hopefully hunters will take a few minutes to send in their tooth,” Diamond said. “The bigger the sample size, the more we’ll learn about how our deer management prescriptions are working.”

The DOW hopes to continue this project through the fall of 2009 so that three years of data are available for comparison.  For the 2008 season, hunters can expect age results by May or June of 2009.  Results will be posted on the Division of Wildlife’s website as soon as possible so that hunters may check the age of their individual deer on-line.

Hunters who have drawn tags in these units may receive an envelope and a letter of explanation before the start of the 2008 season. In some units, a sub-sample of hunters was selected to participate in the project, so not everyone will receive a mailing. Only those who harvest bucks are asked to send in teeth.

Thanks to a generous donation, hunters who send in teeth in 2008 will have a chance to win a rifle donated by the Mule Deer Foundation.

if you hunted in any of the units last year and you sent in teeth, you can check the age of your animal on the DOW web site. Go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us/Hunting/BigGame.

Hunters with questions can call Diamond at (970) 641-7071.

For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: http://wildlife.state.co.us.

Gorilla “Paradise” Found; May Double World Numbers

August 5, 2008

Some pretty good news comes out of Africa for the first time in quite a while. The Gorilla may be Africa’s version of the Northern Spotted Owl.

Read about it here.


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