Wildlife: Wintry weather to take toll on Colorado mule deer

Mule deer enjoying an abundance of January forage as a sustained warm spell has melted low-elevation snowpack in Colorado.

Last year, mild winter conditions eased foraging conditions for ungulates, but this year’s cold temps and deep snow could result in increase mortality. @bberwyn photo.

‘Wildlife has been experiencing and surviving severe weather for eons without human intervention’

Staff Report

Harsh winter conditions in northwestern Colorado may take a toll on already struggling mule deer herds, state biologists said last week, explaining that they’ve started a limited feeding program to try and keep ungulates from invading cattle grazing areas.

The recent storms have created conditions ranking among the most extreme in the past 35 years. Temperatures dropping well below zero and deep powder snow atop brittle crusts are making it harder for deer and elk to forage and could lead to increased wildlife mortality in portions of the region unless the weather moderates significantly, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Continue reading

Increase in Vail-area mountain lion sightings may be caused by humans feeding other wildlife

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Mountain lions are roaming through residential areas around Vail. Photo courtesy CPW.

‘We have lions in the area, and in fact, they have been here for quite some time with very few incidents …’

Staff Report

Colorado wildlife managers say recent sightings of mountain lions around Vail may be the result of humans feeding prey animals, especially foxes. A string of recent lion sightings have a common thread, according to long-time district wildlife manager Bill Andree.

At each location where lion conflicts have been reported, there have also been red foxes present. Andree said it’s possible that people are feeding foxes or allowing trash and other attractants to be available. That can be a major catalyst for serious interactions with mountain lions, he cautioned.

This week, a man walking his dog near Buffehr Creek Road north of Interstate 70 in Vail told wildlife officers that he witnessed his pet come nose to nose with a lion. The dog was not injured in the incident. Less than a mile away, a woman reported that her dog remains missing and although not yet confirmed, evidence indicates a predator may be responsible for its disappearance. Continue reading

Colorado fisheries experts working to rebuild kokanee salmon fishery in Blue Mesa Reservoir

Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Big restocking effort could boost populations over the next few years

Staff Report

FRISCO — Predation by trout and fluctuating water levels in Blue Mesa Reservoir continue to take a toll on the Colorado’s kokanee salmon, state biologists said this week, explaining how they’re working to rebuild the fishery.

Earlier this month, Colorado Parks and Wildlife released about
3 million fingerling kokanee from the Roaring Judy Hatchery into Blue Mesa Reservoir, near Gunnison. The fish that reach maturity will return to spawn in two to five years. Continue reading

Colorado: Wildlife biologists still grappling with Kokanee salmon decline in Lake Granby

Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

New tool helps fisheries managers gather more eggs from other reservoirs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists say they’ve wrapped up their annual kokanee salmon egg collection activities for the year, with good results at Wolford Mountain Reservoir, where they were able to gather 1.78 million eggs.

But predatory lake trout and other factors combined to suppress egg production in Lake Granby, historically the biggest source of eggs for the desirable sport fish. Continue reading

Colorado: When hunting guides go bad

A mountain lion in Colorado

Several people associated with a hunting guide service in western Colorado will have to pay big fines and face other penalties after wounding and maiming mountain lions. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

‘Many of the violations committed by Mr. Loncarich appear to be the result of greed, unlawfully killing and maiming wildlife to increase his profits’

Staff Report

FRISCO — A Colorado man and his Oregon helper — who claimed to be hunting guides — are facing stiff penalties after pleading guilty to violate the Lacey Act, a federal law prohibiting the interstate transportation and sale of any wildlife taken in an illegal manner. Continue reading

Colorado: Investigators seek info on elk poaching near Dinosaur

Three mature bull elk shot and left near highway

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Bull elk testing each other in Rocky Mountain National Park. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Wildlife officials are investigating a particularly egregious case of poaching near the town of Dinosaur.

According to CPW investigators, the intact carcasses of two elk were discovered the morning of Nov. 6, approximately 100 yards north of Highway 40 near milepost 17. They were found lying 150 yards apart and each bull appears to have been killed before sunrise by a single shot from a high-powered rifle.

The carcass of a third bull elk was found the morning of Nov. 12 on the south side of Highway 40 near milepost 6, near the Dinosaur National Monument Visitor’s Center. The bull is thought to have been killed sometime between the evening of Nov. 11 and the morning of Nov. 12. The animal had a single bullet wound and only the antlers had been removed from the carcass. It is unknown if the incidents are related. Continue reading

Colorado biologists tackle Lake Granby kokanee salmon decline

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Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Public meetings on Lake Granby fishery set for early spring

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists say they’re considering changes to fishing regulations in Lake Granby to try and recover the population of kokanee salmon in the popular lake.

The number of salmon eggs collected by biologists in Lake Granby has dropped from 4 million in 2006 down to just 350,000 this year, not enough to maintain the existing population, let alone stock any other Colorado lakes with kokanee.

Kokanee are land-locked Pacific sockeye salmon found in several high-elevation reservoirs in Colorado. The fish feed primarily on zooplankton. But a booming population of mysis shrimp and predation by lake trout are probably the main factors in the Lake Granby kokanee decline. Continue reading

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