My Side |

My Side

Teresa Rippy

During hunting season, graphic changes occur on 240 Road. For those who dont know this area, it is a little county road that makes a loop just east of New Castle. Every year, we watch the local elk herd tormented.Each night, the elk come down to feed in the lower fields below 240 Road. Most of the year, many people watch these majestic animals without complication. As soon as hunting season starts, the changes begin. Some hunters see this herd, numbering from 100 to 200 head, and all common sense must be erased from their memories. The elk are run for hours. Hunters and spectators alike will drive around the circle created by the highway and 240 Road. They will not allow the elk to cross into the dry land where they stay during the day. A dog chasing in such a manner would probably be shot.This year we have an added attraction. An outfitter from Maryland has leased the private property and brings in clients from back East. Weve witnessed firsthand his hunting ethics, or lack of them. We have watched him circle the herd in his truck. He parks along the road in efforts to guide the elk in the direction of his hunters. Last season this herd crossed over on a corner of our property adjacent to the leased acreage. We heard 12 to 14 shots as the elks ran through the hunters. We were told later that the hunters didnt get anything that morning. Odds are they wounded an animal that later died.On Oct. 26, we watched as a herd of elk swam the Colorado River from over by Riverbend. They crossed Interstate 70, the railroad tracks and Highway 6 & 24 into the field below our house around 9 a.m. There were about 60 head. The hunting pressure in the area earlier that morning pushed them over. (The only other time we have witnessed this was about 15 years ago from our side to Riverbend.) The animals were exhausted. Several of the young calves and older cows were hitting the fences so hard you didnt expect them to get up again. Many were physically injured. The herd was terrified and agitated. The lead cow was rearing and jumping, trying to figure out where to go. She started leading the herd up to 240 Road and as she was going over the fence to the dry land, a Jeep that had been watching from Highway 6 drove into them and separated the animals. Half of the elk went into the dry land and half ended up going back across I-70. Now this is not only a hazard to the elk, but also to the motorists on the highways.We bear witness to numerous situations. We do report to the Division of Wildlife. They do all they can to enforce the laws. It becomes much more complicated when you have the county (240 Road), the state (I-70 and Highway 6 & 24) and the private properties all involved.Im not writing this letter to condemn hunting. I know the herds have to be managed. I know many hunters that are responsible and law abiding. They, too, are appalled by these practices. We do not see these animals as a nuisance. We dont want to see them removed from the area. We just want people to be responsible. This morning I got to see firsthand the horror of a cow elk with her jaw shot and hanging, trying to get past all the obstacles in her way. Please be aware of how your actions affect these animals. Teresa Rippy is a resident of rural Garfield County, near New Castle.

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