RFTA Trail Rangers | AspenTimes.com

RFTA Trail Rangers

Dear Editor:All experts seem to agree that any successful management of our wildlife along the Rio Grande corridor will depend heavily upon policing and enforcement of seasonal closures, dog prohibitions, and other mitigation efforts. RFTA has demonstrated and admitted to its total inability to accomplish this, but remains confident such enforcement will be achieved through the help of us concerned citizens. That means that you and I are the first line (only line?) of defense for our wildlife. I guess we’ve been drafted, or maybe kind of deputized. I’m pretty sure we’ve at least been sort of authorized. Anyway, at first blush, this seemed to be a pretty weak effort on RFTA’s behalf. I have now come to see their wisdom.It’s about time we learned a lesson from our patriotic neighbors to the south. These borderline defenders have shown us that a handful of kind-hearted vigilantes can protect our entire nation against criminals of every description. If they can do the whole border, then I reckon, by God, we ought to be men enough to protect one skinny little chunk of trail!Even so, it will take rapid coordination and fast action to recover this trail already heavily occupied by enemy trespassers. Along these lines, and for lack of other guidance, I have started to outline The Trail Ranger’s “How To” Guide and Field Handbook. All recommendations are based on the assumption that we will be on our own without the benefits of enforcement capabilities, radio back-up, or sublethal weaponry like Tasers and such. These first two apparent shortcomings will be used to our advantage. RFTA obviously encourages “on-the-spot justice” allowing us tremendous latitude in the field. Sublethal weaponry is easily substituted. I am recommending, for example, that standard equipment include an oversized slingshot designed to deliver large payloads of melted marshmallows as a “first contact” form of sublethal dissuasion. I’ve considered the use of skunk-flavored paint-gun balls, but procurement appears problematic.Sublethal dog restraints become more challenging. Because speed and the element of surprise are critical to dog patrols, I recommend all dog patrollers to be well mounted with an emphasis on roping skills. For nonropers, I recommend the use of three old tennis shoes tied together in the fashion of an Argentinean bolo. With a little practice, the average thrower can “dog tie” most any moving target within about twenty yards.This may be the only warning all you wannabe trespassers will get. I’ll be out there patrolling on my world’s fastest, ever-faithful mule, “Silver,” followed by my loyal troops, “Deputy Dog” and “Rin Tin Tin.” You’ll probably never see us coming. It’s a lonely patrol now, but I’m expecting reinforcements anytime.Jim DukeCrown MountainCarbondale

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