Hunters kill bison on Colorado ranch
Aspen, CO Colorado
FAIRPLAY, Colo. ” Hunters shot and killed about 30 bison and left the carcasses strewn across a southern Colorado ranch, Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said Thursday.
Deputies were investigating to see whether the shootings were legal.
“There are just hundreds of acres with carcasses laying out there,” Wegener said. “There are carcasses and hides.”
Wegener said about a dozen hunters told investigators they had permission to kill the animals, and some had taken bison meat.
He said deputies were trying to reach the landowner to verify the claim and to find out who owned the bison.
Wegener said the hunters were released after questioning. He declined to identify them or the landowner.
The bison were killed about 60 miles southwest of Denver. Authorities said a 911 caller reported Wednesday that someone was gunning down the animals, but Wegener said it appears they were shot over several days.
“It’s clear this didn’t just happen yesterday,” he said.
Deputies searching in vehicles and on snowshoes and snowmobiles found the dead animals.
A search warrant was issued, but the affidavit outlining the reasons for the search has been sealed, said Katie O’Brien, a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office.
O’Brien said the actions of both the hunters and the landowner are under review.
Dave Carter, executive director of National Bison Association, a bison-ranching industry group, estimated that about 15 percent of its 1,500 members allow licensed hunts.
“That’s usually done under a very controlled situation where a rancher invites somebody on the land, they harvest the animal in the field and process it right away so meat is processed properly and goes into somebody’s freezer,” Carter said.
He said it would be unusual for 30 bison to be killed at once.
“What has everybody bothered is, if they were shot yesterday and they’re in a field lying there, that doesn’t indicate anyone was looking at doing that for food,” Carter said.
The Buddy Program rang in the holiday spirit with their annual Gingerbread House Workshops in Aspen and Carbondale.