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Environmental Groups File Lawsuit to Stop Funding Colorado's Plan to Kill Mountain Lions and Bears

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Three conservation groups are suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Interior Department over plans to kill mountain lions and black bears in two areas in Colorado. The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States, and WildEarth Guardians filed suit Thursday in U.S. District Court over the Fish and Wildlife Service’s agreement to pay 75 percent of the more than $4.5 million total price tag of a multi-year plan by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. The plan is an experiment to try to boost mule deer numbers in the Piceance Basin in northwest Colorado and along the Upper Arkansas River near Leadville and Cañon City. It provides for contractors with a USDA program called Wildlife Services to use traps, snares, and dogs to capture and kill cougars and black bears. In the suit, the plaintiffs charge that the service did not follow National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, requirements before moving ahead with the plan, which generated considerable public opposition. The conservation groups blame extensive energy development in the Piceance Basin for mule deer declines because it damages their forage. They say that the state wildlife agency “simply hypothesizes” that the problem must be predation. The environmental groups ask for the plan, which they call appalling and inhumane, to be halted until more extensive analysis of its impacts can be done.

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.