Quick to kill
Dear Editor:If you think that the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) relocates bears that they trap, think again. Bears that are trapped by the DOW in the Roaring Fork, Fryingpan or Crystal valleys are killed, not relocated.A recent series of events in Redstone brought into focus new policies regarding how the DOW handles bear complaints. A simple phone call to the DOW, expressing concern that the bear in your front yard makes you uncomfortable, will most likely trigger a series of events that will end up with the bear being trapped and then destroyed.At a recent town meeting hosted by the DOW, their policies regarding bears and bear complaints were discussed. In that meeting, the DOW claimed there is no longer a single place in the entire state of Colorado where bears can be relocated. Hence trapped bears are destroyed. Interestingly, friends in other parts of our state have told me that in their districts, the DOW rarely kills a first-offense bear. It appears that the DOW does not have a uniform policy statewide and local officers are allowed to set their own rules.One reason why the DOW is quick to destroy rather than relocate is economics, especially in the face of statewide budget cuts. Education, relocation and other passive means to deal with bears cost money. Conversely, the market for bear pelts and internal organs is highly profitable. Creative fiscal policy, bad wildlife management.If a bear is reported to be a “nuisance” bear on the Crystal, a trap is set to catch the next bear through the area. Complaining citizens frequently do not actually see a bear, but rather hear noise or see his handy work after he has left. It is rare that an offending bear can be positively identified. So the next bear unfortunate enough to wander through the area is trapped and destroyed. The DOW has chosen to not return telephone calls on this subject so it is impossible to get the facts straight. It has been reported that something of the order of 25 bears have been killed in the Roaring Fork drainage this summer, most at the hands of the DOW. In a year where experts are predicting a major winter kill, record destruction of bears seems hard to understand.It is clear that the policy of the local DOW wildlife officer in the Crystal district is to trap and destroy bears rather than employ any of the many alternate approaches which they will talk about but do not practice. I suggest that the DOW officer for the Crystal district, Mr. Justin Martens, be relieved of his duties in the Crystal district and transferred elsewhere (perhaps the DOW’s own trap-and-relocate policy could be used to accomplish this). Mr. Martens has lost track of the alliance he has been entrusted to protect between wildlife and humans.Chuck DowneyRedstone
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