Letter: Herds thinning because of loss of habitat due to overpopulation
January 23, 2019
Thanks to the Sopris Sun for the important article on growth impacts on local wildlife. As one who has taken college courses on conservation, I can report that the loss of habitat means the loss of animals; as well as the vegetation. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is reporting a major decline of elk and deer in populated portions of the state.
Wildlife had no problem in the Roaring Fork Valley before Europeans arrived. We humans are the problem. I've read that much of the wildlife was wiped out by hunting during the mining days. In fact, today's Elk are immigrants brought down from another state and restarted.
So today, we have a society that says wildlife and the natural world are essential and a very valuable part of our mountain lifestyles. So much so that CPW has a high priority to maintain these herds. Oddly, CPW salaries are paid by fees collected for hunting licenses. Hunting and fishing turn out to be a good part of the state's Gross Domestic Product.
So here we are, destroying the valued wildlife with bumpers and stressful impacts like dogs in the woods, as well as shooting them. At the same time, we expect the state professionals to do all they can to keep the herd numbers up.
Even more confusing, biological science proves that predators of the game animals are necessary for the health of the ecosystem. The introduction of wolves in the Yellowstone park proved the benefits of predators. But when herd numbers go down, CPW advises shooting our lions and bears that prey on the ungulates. Sad.
I guess if we extrapolate these concepts to the human situation in the valley, we could conclude that we have an excess of humans vis a vis the animal population and habitat. The logical solution to the problem is clear, we need predators that feed on humans to keep our own overgrown populations in check.
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