Suburbs not suited for hunting

A week ago, an early-morning elk hunt on a ranch in Peach Valley awoke residents and led to an upsetting spectacle of wildlife officers cornering and killing three wounded elk.

Although the five Wisconsin hunters had permission from rancher Richard Murr, it’s now clear that ranches near rural neighborhoods such as Peach Valley simply aren’t good hunting grounds.

Four of the hunters were cited for shooting from a county road.

Colorado Division of Wildlife officer Perry Will held back on further charges because the men showed the good sense of calling the state wildlife agency once they realized they could not safely kill the three wounded elk without endangering neighbors.

It’s a classic Old West-New West conflict.

Traditionally, hunters have used private ranch land, sometimes for a fee. It’s easier than hunting in the high country, and hunters are assured of bagging their elk or deer.

But as more ranches subdivide and people build homes, rural areas are becoming suburban. Although elk may gather on the remaining ranch land, there isn’t enough room sometimes to shoot a high-powered hunting rifle without risk to neighbors.

There are options, such a requiring hunters to use slugs rather than bullets, which calls for a much closer shot. Hunting could also be banned in such areas by a firearms closure, which carries other implications residents may not want to live with. (Ranchers within a closure area can’t collect game damage payments.)

At its root, the situation calls for good common sense by hunters and landowners. If neighbors are close enough that a walking wounded animal can’t be dispatched without risk, then it’s no longer a good place to hunt.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Glenwood Springs and Garfield County make the Post Independent’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.