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Colorado Parks and Wildlife Predator Plan Comes Under Fire from Environmental Groups

K Fink
Creative Commons

Colorado’s wildlife managers are being sued over a controversial plan to kill bears and mountain lions in two parts of the state.

In December, the state Wildlife Commission gave approval for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to reduce predator populations in study areas in Northwest Colorado’s Piceance Basin and the Arkansas River Valley in order to aid mule deer. On Wednesday, the environmental group WildEarth Guardians filed suit in Denver District Court against the commission and agency. The group charges that the plan to trap and kill the animals violates Colorado’s Amendment 14, which severely restricts most trapping. Parks and Wildlife wants to kill up to 45 cougars and 75 bears over three years in an area near Meeker and Rifle, and up to 50 percent of the mountain lions in part of the Arkansas River Valley over a multi-year period. The intent is to see if the reduction helps more fawns survive. In the complaint, WildEarth Guardians says wildlife managers are ignoring evidence that mule deer populations are growing statewide, and charges that the proposal does not meet scientific standards. The group says managers are overlooking other factors that contribute to deer decline in certain areas, such as loss of habitat. The predator-killing proposal has prompted widespread criticism, with more than 100,000 people signing online petitions against it.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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