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Colorado: Vail Pass lakes stocked with big rainbow trout

Stocking trout at Black Lake, near Vail Pass, Colorado.

Reservoirs and lakes offer good fishing while stream flows remain high

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —While high flows have dampened the fishing in many high country streams, anglers are reporting good catches from area lakes.

Vail Pass could be a hot spot after the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District recently  stocked Black Lakes with 5,000 pounds of catchable-size rainbow trout in the past few weeks

This past week, the District coordinated the second stocking of 2,500 pounds of 10-16 inch long rainbow trout into the two Black Lakes. The first 2,500 pounds of trout were stocked on June 21. The fishery supplying the trout says the 5,000 pounds equates to about 2,000 fish. Continue reading

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Colorado: Aspen-area habitat restoration project gets OK

A massive habitat restoration project in the Roaring Fork Valley will improve habitat for bighorn sheep and other wildlife with mechanical treatments and controlled burns.

Forest Service tackles 10-year project in the Roaring Fork Valley

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With development rapidly eating up wildlife habitat along the bottomlands of Roaring Fork Valley, the U.S. Forest Service is going to try and make some large-scale improvements on national forest lands during the coming decade.

White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams last week approved the Aspen-Sopris Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project, which will use a combination of mechanical treatments and controlled burns to reinvigorate vegetation and improve wildlife conditions for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and a variety of other native wildlife that inhabit fire-adapted vegetation communities. All the environmental documents for the project are online at the WRNF website. Continue reading

New Colorado state wildlife & parks board to meet

A northern goshawk in the forest near Breckenridge, Colorado. PHOTO BY JENNEY COBERLY.

July 7 – 8 meeting set to discuss merger of agencies, elect officers and conduct regular business

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The first meeting of the new combined Colorado Parks and Wildlife Board will include the election of officers that will set regulations and policies for the new Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife, as well as a two-hour discussion about the merger of the former Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks.

The two-day meeting is July 7 and July 8 at the Hunter Education Building, located at the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife’s campus at 6060 North Broadway. Audio from the meeting will be streamed live online at the wildlife commission website. Continue reading

Colorado: Big game habitat improvement grants awarded

Projects aim to reduce conflicts between ranchers, game animals

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has awarded $500,000 in grants for habitat improvement projects on private lands.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Grants worth $500,000 from the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Habitat Partnership Program will be put toward improving wildlife habitat by treating brushy areas, weed control, water developments and reseeding with a goal of increasing available habitat and forage for big-game animals.

The recipients of this year’s grants are:
•    White River National Forest Milk Creek Enhancement Project near Meeker;
•    Rio Grande National Forest San Luis Valley Water Development project near Saguache;
•    Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forest Uncompahgre Plateau Habitat Restoration project;
•    Uncompahgre Partnerships North Rim Landscape Restoration project near Hotchkiss; and,
•    Three Rivers Alliances Russian olive and tamarisk removal project in Yuma County. Continue reading

Colorado: Free fishing – no license required June 4 & 5

Stalking cutthroat trout in Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Start the summer season by with some weekend fishing

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado has more than 2,000 lakes, ponds, and reservoirs and 10,000 miles of streams and rivers, all full of trout, bass, walleye and catfish. And each year, the Colorado Division of Wildlife stocks these waters with more than 3 million catchable-sized trout; in addition to 14 million trout fingerlings.

This weekend, June 4-5, is your chance to catch some of those fish without a license on the traditional free-fishing weekend, an opportunity to introduce new people to angling or to re-connect with the summer pastime. See some pics of some favored high country fishing holes here: Morning photo: Gone fishin’.

“Free fishing weekend is a great opportunity for people to try out fishing if they haven’t yet,” said Greg Gerlich, aquatic section manager for the Division of Wildlife. “It’s also a chance for those who used to fish Colorado’s outstanding waters to get back into the sport.” Continue reading

Colorado: State research shows robust plover populations

A mountain plover. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE.

Partnership between state wildlife agency and private landowners enabled researchers to get good data on habitat and breeding; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decides threatened listing isn’t needed

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A partnership between the Colorado Division of Wildlife and private ranchers enabled researchers to show that mountain plovers are not as rare as previously believed.

Partially as a result of that research, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded earlier this month that the plover does not need protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The ruling came May 10, after the federal agency reviewed research showing that the plover population is robust. Led by avian researcher Victoria Dreitz, the CDOW studies showed the plover is an adaptable bird that can breed on agricultural fields and may benefit from cattle grazing, according to a press release from CDOW. Continue reading

Colorado: Coyotes kill pet dog in Aspen

State biologists say keeping pets leashed is a good idea in wildlife areas

A coyote roams through brush. PHOTO COURTESY JOHN AND KAREN HOLLINGSWORTH and the We For Animals website. Please click to learn more about this organization.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — An Aspen resident out for a walk on Smuggler Mountain Friday got more of a wildlife experience than she wanted, when a pack of coyotes attacked and killed her pet labradoodle.

According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the woman said she was walking her six-month old Labradoodle in an area where it is legal for pets to roam off-leash when one or more coyotes attacked the puppy after it apparently approached them in a playful manner.

“This is a very unfortunate incident and I feel very badly for this lady,” said Area Wildlife Manager Perry Will. “It is also a sad reminder that pet owners need to keep their pets on a leash and take precautions whenever they walk their pets in areas where they could encounter wildlife.” Continue reading

Colorado finalizes ban on hunting bears in dens

Wildlife agency also up bear licenses by 17 percent

Colorado adopts a ban on hunting bears in dens, but ups bear licenses by 17 percent. PHOTO COURTESY MICHAEL SERAPHIN, CDOW.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Wildlife Commission last week finalized regulations that ban hunting or harassment of black bears in their dens. The new regulation was prompted by an incident last year, when a hunter near Craig tracked a a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the bear.

The Craig bear killing elicited a critical public reaction, spurring wildlife managers to consider the change. The ban was first discussed at meeting in January 2011, when the commission directed staff to draft a new regulation. The regulation was reviewed in March and approved the commission last week in Salida. Continue reading

Colorado big game poacher fined $4,000

According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife, poaching continues to be a serious problem. By some estimates, nearly as many animals are killed by poachers as by legally licensed hunters. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

‘Egregious’ case in Craig involved a poacher killing wildlife for trophies

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Craig man has been fined $4,000 for poaching big game animals in one of the most egregious cases the state wildlife agency has investigated in recent years.

Floyd Gutierrez, 63, pleaded no contest to willful destruction of wildlife — a Class 5 felony. In addition to the fine, a judge ordered him to make a $5,000 donation to Operation Game Thief, the non-profit organization that pays rewards to help solve poaching cases in Colorado.

Gutierrez was also sentenced to four years of supervised probation and could have his hunting privileges permanently revoked pending a review by a Division of Wildlife hearing examiner. His supervised probation could be reduced to one year if he complies with court requirements.

“Shooting an animal and only taking the trophy parts is a very serious crime that is essentially stealing from all of the people of Colorado,” said Craig District Wildlife Manager Mike Swaro, who led the investigation. “Like this one, many of the cases we investigate come to us through tips from members of the public who are concerned about poaching.” Continue reading

Anglers want insurance policy for Colorado River projects

Mitigation plans for Windy Gap, Moffat firming projects up for May 6 wildlife commission hearing in Salida, where public comment will be heard

CDOW Aquatic biologist Jon Ewert holds a rainbow trout for measurement while sampling fish populations in the Blue River in Silverthorne, Colorado.

Even monitoring a short section of a stream requires a team of researchers and takes a full day.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — While water managers and elected officials on both sides of the Continental Divide are still busy patting each other on the back for reaching tentative agreement on some water key issues, the hard day-to-day work of protecting fisheries in the streams continues with a May 6 hearing on mitigation plans for two new water projects that could result in additional impacts to West Slope streams.

Conservation advocates acknowledged that the water deal announced last week is a step forward, but also cautioned that the agreement didn’t specifically address future impacts from two major new trans-mountain diversions — Denver Water’s Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion and the Northern Water Conservancy District’s Windy Gap firming projects.

Both projects would result if additional depletions of the Upper Colorado River Basin, where some small tributaries have been almost completely de-watered by diversions to the Front Range, and others are protected by minimum instream flows that may — or may not — be adequate to protect aquatic habitat.

Altogether, the projects have the potential to reduce Colorado River flows to less than 25 percent of their historic native flows. Biologists and anglers have already observed increases in stream temperatures, algae blooms, and declines in fish populations throughout the Colorado River headwaters. Taking more water out of these rivers could be catastrophic if mitigation efforts fall short, according to Trout Unlimited. Continue reading

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