Forest Service plan a threat to wilderness
The U.S. Forest Service may soon allow poisons and all-terrain vehicles into wilderness areas in order to control “problem” predators. This is nothing short of a threat to the wilderness – and the lofty ideals that motivate us to preserve it – and may well endanger other animals.Under a proposed new rule, the Forest Service may allow officers with the federal Wildlife Services Division of the Animal and Plant Health Inspections Service to enter designated wilderness areas and kill problem predators, such as a coyote that’s preying on livestock. Predator control itself is nothing new or dramatic. But the proposed rule would expand the ways that the officers can do their job – to use aircraft, motor vehicles, poisons and pesticides in their pursuit of coyotes, mountain lions, wolves and other predators.Forest Service officials say this won’t happen often, that predator control is already rare in wilderness areas and the tactics will only be used in extreme cases. But if predator control in wilderness areas is so rare, then what is the burning need to change the rules?Places like the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness and the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness are federally designated sanctuaries where the noise of belching engines and the glint of motorized steel is not allowed. The idea of designating wilderness is to let nature flourish and to offer peace and quiet to the occasional human visitor. Once the door of mechanization opens, however slightly, who can say where it will stop? How long until Forest Service officials want to use chain saws to clear deadfall and ATVs to haul signposts into the remote high country?If, for example, wilderness users accept that cattle are an established part of the experience on the Capitol Lake trail, will they now also have to accept the occasional ATV or poison trap as a means of protecting that livestock from predators?And what if other wildlife or domestic pets get curious about such traps? Poison is poison, after all; it kills indiscriminately.This proposal is a risky solution to a small problem. The dangers outweigh the benefits, if in fact there really are any benefits. Perhaps the public can trust White River National Forest officials to use these more aggressive methods cautiously. But why even open the door?This rule is a bad idea, and we urge everyone to make that clear to the Forest Service. The public is invited to comment until Aug. 7, and comments can be e-mailed to PDM@fs.fed.us, faxed to (202) 205-1145, or mailed to USDA Forest Service Director of Wilderness and Wild and Scenic Rivers, 201 14th St. Southwest, Washington, D.C., 20250.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ 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.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
Changes are coming to Aspen’s downtown landscape when it comes to using public right-of-way space for private use.