Letter: Wildlife and the Crystal Trail | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Wildlife and the Crystal Trail

In the ongoing discussion of trail location for the Crystal Valley bike trail, there has been a plethora of coincidental and anecdotal tales of wildlife seemingly getting along just fine with humans intruding in their habitat. The warnings of our wildlife managers (the men and women who actually spend four or more years of higher education learning about wildlife) seem to get lost in the din of personal stories.

I encourage all interested parties to bone up on the scientific facts. There have been ongoing studies of human/wildlife interactions for decades. Go to tinyurl.com/MuleDeerandElk or Google “the Starkey Project” for even more.

The personal tales of deer, elk and bighorns standing around apparently unconcerned while we intrude in their space are ignorant of true effects of our disturbance. Higher pulse rates, cessation of eating and elevated stress hormones are all part of the effects.

During the critical times of year (primarily spring to early summer) these effects can spell doom to some of the weaker animals. While they may not fall over and die in front of you, their eventual death back in the brush is real. Or nursing mothers may have to abandon their calves, fawns or lambs to the coyotes and lions.

Put that picture in your head while you cruise merrily down the trail on that first bike ride in May.

Bob Shettel

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers