Colorado: Highway lynx crossings documented

Study tracks north-south movement with more than 10 years of data

“Due to the poor precision of telemetry location estimates and the amount of time elapsed between locations, the straight line movement paths depicted in this analysis DO NOT represent exact or even approximate locations where lynx crossed I-70.” ~ Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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Colorado: Public meeting set to discuss makeup of new commission for combined parks and wildlife agency

A fox in Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO BY DYLAN BERWYN.

Representation of different user groups at issue in debate over the composition of the new Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The merger between the Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks resulted in the formation of a new advisory board to help set policy for the combined agency.  The composition of that panel has been at issue in a series of meetings and behind-the-scenes negotiations, as wildlife and conservation advocates want to ensure that the makeup of the new panel doesn’t dilute the core mission of the former wildlife agency. Continue reading

Travel: Georgetown celebrates bighorn sheep festival

Georgetown honors Colorado's state mammal.

Nov. 12 event featues wildlife watching, family activities

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s bighorn sheep are, for the most part, peaceful animals, spending most of their time browsing on grass and wildflowers in some of the most sublime landscapes in the country.

But for a few weeks every year right about this time, primal mating instincts kick in, and the rams posture, paw and huff, sometimes charging each other in an impressive display of animal power that culminates with a clash of their mighty curled horns. More info here …

Georgetown will celebrate Colorado’s state mammal Nov. 12 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) with the sixth annual Bighorn Sheep Festival, a wildlife-oriented event that includes fun for the entire family, with presentations on wildlife topics like winter bird feeding, as well as face-painting and a climbing wall for kids.

Nestled next to I-70 and boasting the the largest herd of bighorn sheep in the state, Georgetown is the perfect spot to learn more about the habits and nature of these home-grown, high-altitude rock climbers. Continue reading

Colorado biologists boosting bighorn sheep herds

Successful transplant increases numbers in northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists take blood samples while transplanting bighorn sheep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A herd of bighorn sheep in the Sangre de Cristo mountains gained nine new animals recently, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists completed a second translocation of sheep captured in the southern part of the range.

The nine bighorn sheep join 13 others that were moved into the mountains of northeastern Saguache County in a similar operation in 2010.

Before 2010, the northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains had not had bighorn sheep since the 198os. In the southern part of the range, bighorm sheep have been thriving, providing a good source for the transplant. Visit this Colorado Parks and Wildlife website to learn more about the state’s bighorn conservation efforts. Continue reading

Colorado biologists to hold elk symposium in Steamboat

Information session will address winter impacts to big game herds

A herd of elk near Buena Vista, Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE HANNIGAN/COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After watching elk grow weak and die during last year’s record-breaking snowfall, some residents of the Steamboat Springs region decided to take matters into their own hands.

They started feeding the elk, which may have saved a few individual animals, but can cause problems for the larger population, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists. The best way to ensure healthy big game populations is with large-scale habitat improvement projects, the biologists said. Read an in-depth story on this issue in Steamboat Today.

“Last winter, due to the deep snow and difficult conditions, we had elk move into town and many people saw firsthand the impact an especially harsh winter can have on wildlife,” said Danielle Domson, wildlife manager for the Steamboat Springs South District. “The situation caused some concern, but we want to explain to everyone that what they saw was actually a natural part of an elk’s life cycle. Colorado Parks and Wildlife information big game management is online here Continue reading

Colorado: Free fishing lessons for kids Aug. 19 in Granby

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Kids can get some free fishing info Aug. 19 at a clinic in Granby.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado kids under 12 can learn about the basics of rods, reels and lures during a free fishing clinic coming up Aug. 19 in Granby.

The Hot Sulphur Springs office of Colorado Parks and Wildlife is hosting the event as a fun way to introduce youngsters to angling.

“We hope these kids become the anglers of tomorrow,” said Granby area dstrict wildlife manger Scott Murdoch. “Colorado needs a new generation that will not only enjoy this wonderful sport, but will also help maintain our fisheries and habitat.”

The free event will be held at the Kaibab Kids Fishing Pond in Granby, Aug. 19 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parents are welcome to come along and learn with their kids. The clinic is free, and rods and reels will be provided, but pre-registration is required.

Space is limited so please call the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hot Sulphur Springs office at 970-725-6200 to reserve a space.

Check out the Parks and Wildlife fishing webpage for more.

Colorado: Will the lynx survive?

A lynx in the wild counry of Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO DIVISION OF PARKS AND WILDLIFE.TANYA SHENK.

State wildlife agency testing new method for monitoring wild carnivore populations on a landscape scale

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’ve been waiting for the 2011 spring lynx kitten count from the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, don’t hold your breath. Instead if visiting individual dens to collar and count lynx, state biologists are shifting gears, working to determine whether the wild cats can hold their own in Colorado in the long run with an unprecedented habitat occupancy model.

Intensive monitoring during the first 10 years of the state lynx recovery program included annual visits to lynx dens, as well as aerial and satellite monitoring. The research yielded detailed information about lynx behavior and reproduction, including annual reports that specified the number of new kittens as a way of measuring reproductive success. The 2009-2010 annual lynx program report is online here.

But this year, state biologists are switching to a new mode of tracking the rare mountain wild cats. Using a network of motion-activated cameras, snow tracking and genetic sampling, the researchers hope to determine where the cats are living, eating and sleeping, and how well they are filling all the available habitat in the state. An overall assessment of the Colorado lynx recovery program is online here.

The data from those sources will help document the distribution and persistence of lynx across the landscape, said biologist Tanya Shenk, who led the Colorado recovery effort in its first 10 years and now works for the National Park Service as a climate change and landscape ecologist. Shenk said there has been a general move by wildlife and conservation biologists to move away from invasive techniques that put a lot of stress on individual animals. The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife lynx program information is online here. Continue reading

Colorado: Celebrate wildlife at Grand Mesa Moose Day

Moose biology and history featured at event, along with kids activities

Moose near the headwaters of the Fraser River, Grand County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado wildlife enthusiasts will once again gather this weekend to celebrate the state’s growing moose population at the second annual Grand Mesa Moose Day.

“As their population continues to grow in Colorado, people’s interest has increased as well,” said Parks and Wildlife watchable wildlife coordinator Trina Romero. “Moose sightings can be a great experience and we encourage people to learn more about them and how to watch them safely.” Continue reading

Colorado: Discarded fishing line deadly to wildlife

Tangled fishing line left behind by careless anglers is a common sight at popular fishing spots, and dozens of animals die as a result of this problem.

Tangled remnants of monofilament can be recycled with Berkley

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s been great fun the last couple of years watching my son’s growing enthusiasm for fishing. In the warm part of the year, it’s become an important part of our father and son time. Along with the occasional thrill of catching a fish, we explore new spots and we have time to just sit and talk.

But one thing that’s always bothered me is the tremendous amount of garbage left behind at popular angling spots, especially the easily accessible shoreline venues along Dillon Reservoir. I’ve been harping on this to my son since he could walk and talk, and I’m proud to say he’s become quite the anti-litterbug — to the point that I’ve heard him call out people on the chairlift at A-Basin when he sees them drop a candy wrapper.

Included in that shoreline debris I often find tangled wads of fishing line. In a few areas, it’s become ubiquitous. This is a big problem. Of course, the line doesn’t biodegrade, but even worse, dozens of birds and small mammals get tangled in the line and die every year in Colorado. There’s really no excuse for this. Continue reading

Colorado: Legal battle over bat caves brewing

Conservation group files lawsuit challenging BLM permits to visit caves

A battle over protecting bats and bats caves is brewing in Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — State and federal resource managers in Colorado have been at odds over a decision to permit the National Speleological Society to visit several caves later this month when the caving group holds its annual convention in Glenwood Springs. A national conservation group, the Center for Biological Diversity, is now challenging the permit in federal court.

Despite warnings from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the federal Bureau of Land Management last month issued a permit for  several caves on BLM land in the northwestern part of the state.

According to the BLM, the caves are not used extensively by bats. but state biologists said previously there has been some documented use of the caves by Townsend’s big-eared bats, a species of special concern in Colorado. Click here to read about state bat conservation efforts. The CDOW white-nose syndrome response plan can also be seen here.

The cavers — a conscientious group — have agreed to strict conditions to try and protect bat populations from the spread of white-nose syndrome, a deadly fungal disease that’s wiping out bats in the eastern part of the U.S. Bats play a key ecosystem role by pollinating many commercial crops and wild plants, and by keeping insect populations in check. Read this story to learn more. Continue reading

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