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Suckla Calls Biologists' Concerns About Mule Deer Habitat on Paths to Mesa Verde "Ridiculous"

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The Montezuma County commissioners reacted angrily Monday when they learned that Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists have expressed concerns about how a proposed bike and pedestrian trail might affect mule deer.

County public-lands coordinator James Dietrich told the board that significant progress is being made on the proposed “Paths to Mesa Verde” trail from Cortez to Mancos, with several possible routes being worked out and contacts being made with landowners. He said comments from Parks and Wildlife, however, had been “pretty negative” because biologists believe the human presence could adversely affect the animals. Commission Chair Larry Don Suckla called such concerns  “ridiculous,” saying there are numerous deer around his rural home living in proximity to people. He said the biologists don’t know what they’re talking about, and asked why they didn’t get rid of mountain lions in order to boost deer numbers. Commissioner Keenan Ertel agreed but added that the longer hunting season is also a factor in declining deer populations. He said when he was young the hunting season lasted just two weeks, but now the different types of seasons stretch through four and a half months. Ertel said it was absurd to think someone on a bike would have a more harmful impact on deer than “a guy with a 30-06.” KSJD was unable to obtain a copy of the agency’s comments to the commissioners by press time.

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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