Letter: Humans and wildlife
We are privileged to live in an area with robust forests inhabited by wildlife. As a Sopris District ranger said years ago, the Crystal River is the closest thing to being in wilderness while driving a car.
I love the wildlife stories of deer and elk walking through our towns and feasting on our trees and shrubs. The bears that strip the apples and apricots off our trees think it is theirs. An 84-year-old lady walking up the Rio Grande Trail stopped to admire a six-point buck taking shelter from the hunt in town. He eyed her with aplomb and sauntered away to let her pass.
A friend was walking her young dog through a herd of Bighorns near No Name; her pup took too much notice of a lamb and Mom knocked him clear to the river. I watched a group of bicyclists slowly ride through a herd near Glenwood and the sheep didn’t even look up.
I think our animal brothers thrive on close proximity to harmless people. Before the Catherine-to-Rock Bottom trail was built, I walked the hillside looking for scat and tracks. None were evident — now every animal trail is heavily used.
Fall and winter, deer bed down in our garden, sometimes spending the day. I watched 30 hunters passing deer calmly grazing on McNulty’s then-private wildlife preserve at the base of Cottonwood Pass. Though it was hunting season the deer knew they were safe.
I look forward to the Crystal Trail built on the B alignment up the existing old wagon road the railroad was built on. Little development is needed. It will benefit the wildlife to have that safe interaction with people. I trust Pitkin County Open Space & Trails to buy easements, do the studies and get the closures and protocols right.
I talked to a raccoon that was moving in next to my chicken coop. I told her that I would protect my chickens. She stayed listening, and then moved her babies out. Skunks don’t listen.
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