State resource managers seek input from hunters and anglers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY —With deer herds in northwestern Colorado declining and the state’s trout likely facing another long, dry summer, wildlife managers may be looking at some tough choices in the months ahead.
To get some input from active hunters and anglers in the region, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is putting together regional caucuses to meet and discuss wildlife issues with managers, biologists and agency officials, with an upcoming meeting set for Feb. 20 in Grand Junction (6 p.m. at the Clarion Hotel, 755 Horizon Drive).
In addition to the wildlife-related discussion, attendees will select two delegates to represent the region’s wildlife concerns at the newly formed Sportsmen’s Roundtable to be held in Denver next month. The roundtable will provide hunters and anglers from the four regions of the state with direct access to agency officials, including wildlife commissioners. Continue reading “Colorado: New wildlife roundtable forming”→
Colorado wildlife officials disappointed by listing proposal
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Despite ongoing voluntary conservation measures, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said this week that the best available science indicates that the Gunnison sage-grouse is in danger of extinction and needs protection under the Endangered Species Act.
GOCO, feds and state pitch in on major conservation deal
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new conservation easement on the 15,000-acre Tuttle Ranch in Moffat County will help protect important wildlife habitat and winter range while allowing ranching operations to continue.
The ranch encompasses sagebrush steppe, foothills grassland and pinyon-juniper woodlands, with habitat for greater sage-grouse and critical winter range for elk, mule deer and pronghorn.
Habitat occupancy assessment to help monitor status of population
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists say they’re close to finalizing a plan to monitor the state’s lynx population by assessing habitat occupancy. If successful, the strategy would enable researchers to determine whether the population of endangered wild cats is sustaining itself over time.
The habitat occupancy model was tested in a pilot program in core lynx habitat in the San Juans a couple of years ago, showing that about 50 to 60 percent of the available lynx habitat is occupied. Now the biologists are trying to figure out if they can use the same method to keep tabs on lynx across the entire state.
Lynx have been listed as a threatened species since 2000, with a population in New Mexico currently under consideration for listing as a candidate species. Colorado launched a restoration program in 1999, transplanting more than 200 lynx from Canada and Alaska to the San Juans.
The reintroduction effort was declared a success about two years ago, after 10 years of intensive monitoring, with on-the ground visits to lynx dens, as well as tracking via airplanes and satellites. The tracking shows that the population has spread northward, with resident, breeding lynx up through the Collegiate Range and even into Summit County, with pockets of populations north of I-70.
In a draft report on the pilot study, biologists said it’s not feasible to accurately estimate population numbers, but assessing habitat use and occupancy can help determine whether the population is stable, growing or declining — and might also show trends in habitat use, for example in response to changing forest conditions. Colorado Parks and Wildlife lynx research is online here. Continue reading “Colorado biologists planning statewide lynx assessment”→
Pittman-Robertson Act crucial to maintaining Colorado game herds
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Without much fanfare, wildlife managers around the country are celebrating a milestone this month, as the Pittman-Robertson Act turns 75.
If you’ve never heard of the Pittman-Robertson Act, you’re probably not alone, but if you value wildlife, you’ve probably benefited from what might is probably the single most effective funding tool for wildlife management and restoration.
Southwestern Colorado trout fishery threatened by bass
SUMMIT COUNTY — Bucket biologists are causing more headaches for Colorado wildlife managers by illegally stocking fish, including smallmouth bass at Miramonte Reservoir in San Miguel County.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is now planning to eradicate smallmouth bass by using an organic pesticide to kill all the fish in the reservoir and then rebuild this renowned trout fishery that attracts anglers from throughout the West. The operation is tentatively scheduled to occur in late summer or fall of 2013.
Along with threatening trout in the reservoir, the smallmouth bass are also a potential threat to three native fish species: Roundtail chub, the bluehead sucker and the flannelmouth sucker
In the meantime, Parks and Wildlife is implementing an emergency order that removes all bag and possession limits on smallmouth bass at Miramonte Reservoir.
“Killing all the fish in the reservoir lake is something we wish we didn’t have to do, but we know we must,” said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager in Montrose. “People who illegally move fish into lakes, ponds and rivers are not only committing a criminal act, they are endangering native species, stealing a resource and recreational opportunity from thousands of anglers and negatively impacting the local community.” Continue reading “Colorado: Bucket biologists endanger native fish”→