Mesa Verde NP seeks to cut damage from stray cattle

‘Plan to control ‘trespass’ livestock in the works

Spruce House at Mesa Verde National Park. Photo courtesy NPS.

By Summit  Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Increasing incursions by so-called trespass cattle at Mesa Verde National Park have prompted the National Park Service to solicit public input on a plan to curb the damage to public resources.

According to Park Superintendent Cliff Spencer’s Jan. 17 scoping letter, there about 100 to 150 trespass horses in an on the border of the park, with trespass cattle numbering about 10 to 20 per year.Park scientists have documented what they’re calling severe impacts to archeological sites, native vegetation, and soils.

Trespass livestock has also been documented out-competing native wildlife for water sources, and damaging park facilities. There have also been dangerous confrontations reported between trespass livestock and park staff and visitors.

Early in the planning process, the park service is eying several ways to reduce those impacts, including better fencing, rounding up the cattle and returning the animals to their owners, or even auction.

The agency is preparing an environmental assessment to analyze a reasonable range of alternatives, with public comments on the initial scoping letter due by Feb. 28. Call wildlife biologists Paul Morey at (970) 529-4617 or email with additional questions.

We invite you to submit your written comments online at the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website. You can also mail your comments to:

Mesa Verde National Park
Attn: Trespass Livestock Management Plan
PO Box 8
Mesa Verde National Park, CO 81330

Information on more Mesa Verde management plans, including a fire plan, are online at


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