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Letter: Bike trails and wildlife

For 20 years I had watched dozens of deer coming down major game trails across the Rio Grande rail line every morning for water. Since the installation of the Rio Grande bike trail, deer have become rare on that hillside. 

Meanwhile, we have a new abundance of lost and confused, habituated deer trapped in our neighborhood between the Rio Grande bike trail and the new game fences along Highway 82. Wildlife in our yards is not a sign of healthy wildlife populations.

The first time I walked up the Rio Grande railroad in the mid 1980s, I came across a freshly born fawn still trying to get to its feet for the first time. The doe was in a flight-or-fight confused panic, and I immediately turned back and vacated the site as quickly as I could. 



There is now a portapotty on almost the exact site the fawn had been struggling to get to its feet. The most recent fawn I’ve seen, still wet and struggling to its feet, was next to a neighbors garage, stumbling futilely trying to navigate around a lawn mower and various gardening tools.

While I applaud John Hoffman for good intentions and idealistic views, his approach to wildlife management is dangerously naïve. All wildlife science disagrees with his beliefs. It is never healthy for wildlife to trust humans. Habituation is no favor to these beautiful, wild creatures. Those who try to sell the notion of peaceful, beneficial interactions between humans and wildlife might as well describe global warming as a cozy comforter helping to shelter all of nature from the cold.



Bike trails, unfortunately, are even more impactful to wildlife than are railroads and highways. The wildlife trails above the Rio Grande corridor have long been abandoned. But don’t take my word for it. Go take a hike. If you find anything identifiable as a trail above this section of the Rio Grande, the most recent track on it will be that of a mountain bike.

Jim Duke

Carbondale


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