Below is a letter submitted by the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission regarding two predator management plans.
December 6, 2016
Mr. James C. Pribyl
Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission
Denver, CO 80216
Chairman Pribyl and members of the Commission:
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) appreciates the opportunity to comment on the two predator management plans before the Commission.
The Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River Predator Control Plans are the exact strategies needed to determine whether predator-prey relationships are affecting mule deer in these areas. The 2015 Colorado Mule Deer Strategy referenced declining mule deer populations in these areas and reviewed scientific data suggesting need for predator control to reverse population trends. We support Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s proposed research projects to remove limited numbers of mountain lions and black bears from the Piceance Basin and mountain lions from the Upper Arkansas River as part of controlled experiments to determine potential impact on survival rates. RMEF has consistently advocated for and helped fund science-based management practices and applauds Colorado Parks & Wildlife for taking this approach.
These studies may well confirm predators are a significant reason for declining mule deer populations in these areas. Predators have contributed to significant wildlife declines in other areas as well. RMEF helped fund a three-year study that concluded in 2014 in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley to determine the reason for the rapid decline of the area’s once abundant elk herds. The study involved collaring 44 cow elk to monitor their movement and fitting 286 elk calves with radio transmitters to indicate when and where they died. The project yielded important information about the different habitats in the study area that support elk at different times of the year as well as those which produced more calf recruitment and survival. Surprisingly, the study also confirmed mountain lions were responsible for killing 36 percent of the calves in the study that did not survive. The conclusions of this study are already helping Montana’s wildlife managers make better game management decisions in this and other areas.
We expect the Piceance and Upper Arkansas River projects will help provide Colorado’s wildlife managers the scientific information they need to make sound, defensible management decisions. We urge the Commission to support these proposals so they can be initiated promptly.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide comments.