Merriott column: Wildlife ‘suppression’ is not euthanasia, it’s just plain killing | PostIndependent.com
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Merriott column: Wildlife ‘suppression’ is not euthanasia, it’s just plain killing

Frosty Merriott

It’s a fact we are losing our wildlife; elk, mule deer, bears, moose, lions — you name it.

We know the real reason for this is too many people. Elk are down 50% in the Roaring Fork and Eagle Valleys in the last 20 years alone. The hunters have remained about the same, but the “Loving Our Wild places to Death” mantra has increased dramatically — hikers, snowmobiles, mountain bikes, and of course the fragmentation of habitat by housing.

The first experiment put forward in the last year for “managing” the elk loss was to cull out the bears and lions who must be eating all the defenseless babies. But, what if its people?

In 2000, there were 4.3 million of us. In 2020, there were 5.6 million of us — a 30% increase. It actually gets worse. The projection for 2040 is 8 million; almost doubling the population from 2020. This is especially sobering when we already have a shortage of wildlife habitat, a shortage of housing and, soon, if the drought continues, a shortage of water.

This first idea by Colorado wildlife officials was to get the elk/deer calf count up. Once, elk had 40 calves per 100. Now it’s 17 per 100. What could that be caused by?

I’m not an expert, but first I’d say we could be losing calving grounds, like where Snowmass put up that fancy roller coaster for summer recreation, or maybe it’s the drought and severe winters caused by climate anomalies. One could even factor in diseases as a possibility.

I wouldn’t have thought of predators, but I live in a little bit of a Walt Disney world sometimes. CPW decided that was the reason, after what some say was faulty research. So, now we have “hunters” out near Montrose, Trinidad and Glenwood Springs thinning out those dang bears and lions. Do not get me wrong. This is complicated science, but I am bothered by the default thinking that man can manage Mother Nature successfully.

On top of the culling experiment of bears and lions, we were only recently exposed to a whole new headline, “Colorado mountain lions hit with new hunting plan as people spread.” The new plan, which is highly controversial, is to let hunters kill up to 15% of lions a year across western Colorado, even more near subdivisions! That could be nearly 1,000 lions a year?

Again, let me get this straight. We know population in Colorado is out of control. What are the main issues facing residents of the Roaring Fork Valley? All the elected officials run on the lack of affordable housing and too much traffic.

Flip this and see how that reads instead.

We have too many people for the amount of housing people can afford; soon to be a lack of fresh water, as well. We are in a drought and extreme fire danger as I write this, but we are going to let more people come and kill the lions and bears and even the moose which we reintroduced here. And, of course, the wolves will get killed if they come, as well. The grizzlies are already long gone.

We animal rights advocates favor more of a live-and-let-live approach to wildlife (i.e. they were here first; even before the Utes).

This new law would establish “western suppression zones” where more lions could be killed. A “suppression zone” for an enemy I understand, but for lions this seems extreme and rather inhumane. It points again to mankind’s insatiable need to control Mother Nature.

This is not euthanasia. It’s killing.

California voters in 1990 prohibited lion hunting, and wildlife managers there have not seen an increase in conflicts. I would be for a commonsense approach. You live in the mountains, and so do the lions and bears. Haze them away from schools and where people live. Accept that you will probably lose a pet here or there. If that is not an acceptable risk, well, there’s always Denver or LA or New York to pitch your tent?

I really do think that within 10 years we should acknowledge we will probably have population caps and immigration standards, so that if you move here you need to have a job and a place to live. Sad, but true.

We will have to ensure that everyone who lives here has food and water, plenty of housing and room enough for all God’s creatures to survive without wandering near a dreaded “suppression zone.”

P.S. — Also, can we begin the discussion of modifying the antiquated two-strike count for bears unless they have made an unprovoked attack on a person?

Frosty is a CPA and registered independent, fiscally conservative and a tree hugger from Louisiana. He served 10 years on Carbondale Town Council and hopes his neighbors don’t try to run him out of town since he could be viewed as part of the problem and not the solution.


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