Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Broomfield man pleads guilty to five wildlife violations for unlawful killing of moose

A convicted Colorado poacher will pay almost $20,000 in fines for illegally killing, then abandoning a bull moose in Grand County last November.

On April 9 in a 14th Judicial District courtroom, the case against Callan Hyatt,19, of Broomfield culminated when he pleaded guilty to five misdemeanor wildlife violations including hunting in a careless manner, failing to locate wounded game, failing to dress wildlife, illegal possession of wildlife and hunting without a license. The fine total included a $10,000 further penalty - also referred to as the 'Samson law' - for the illegal take of a bull moose. Hyatt received a warning for a felony charge of willful destruction of wildlife.

Pending the decision of a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hearings Examiner, Hyatt could receive up to a five-year suspension of his hunting and fishing privileges in 47 Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact states.

Officials learned of the dead moose the day after Hyatt killed it when a hunter called in a tip to a local CPW officer. By that time, the animal's meat had spoiled. When confronted by CPW District Wildlife Officer Jeff Behncke, Hyatt admitted that while hunting elk, he saw movement in the trees and fired his rifle in the direction without properly identifying the target, subsequently wounding a moose. Hyatt did not possess a moose license. He did not pursue the wounded moose as is required by law, abandoning it rather than tracking it, field-dressing it and reporting the incident. The officer says Hyatt's poor choices are what prompted the serious charges.

"We understand hunting mistakes and accidents will happen, but we expect sportsmen and women to take immediate responsibility for their actions," said Behncke. "Thankfully the vast majority of hunters are ethical and do the right thing in cases like this; unfortunately, there are a few that may prefer to try and evade authorities. We offer everyone this advice; if you accidentally kill the wrong species, you should call us right away and field dress the animal immediately so that it does not spoil."

Behncke says doing the right thing can be the difference between a simple $70.50 fine, or a $20,000 citation, felony charges and the loss of hunting and fishing privileges.

While investigating, Behncke discovered footprints in the snow and recovered a .270 caliber bullet from the carcass. The officer began searching nearby hunting camps for more information. At the second camp he visited, the officer matched the boots Hyatt was wearing to the prints he had seen in the snow. He also learned Hyatt had a .270 caliber rifle in his possession at camp.

"We thank Colorado Parks and Wildlife for their detailed investigation that resulted in the successful discovery and prosecution of the defendant," said Deputy District Attorney Kathryn Dowdell of the 14th Judicial District. "A hunter has the absolute responsibility to confirm their target and ethically harvest a legal animal. This case represents one of the worst illegal killings and waste of a bull moose in Grand County in recent years. Those who seek to illegally kill wildlife will be held responsible for wasting this valuable resource of the State of Colorado."

Behncke says he is currently investigating the poaching of two additional moose and one bull elk shot and abandoned in Game Management Unit 28 in Grand County.

"A legal, bull moose hunter waits a minimum of four years to draw a license," adds Behncke. "In fact, many hunters never draw a license in their lifetime because of the very limited license allocations. This act essentially stole that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity from a legal hunter."

CPW credits the hunter that called in to report finding the dead moose. "He had two young sons with him," said Behncke. "I think the father set a great example about how to handle a situation like this by reporting what he saw as soon as possible."

The public can report wildlife crimes anonymously by calling Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648. Rewards are available if the information leads to an arrest or citation.



Jeff
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Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Tick Season in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park posted this information on their Facebook page the other day:
When are ticks most abundant in #RMNP? Would you guess April – June?! Yes, it’s tick season again in areas all the way up to subalpine elevations.

Ticks hang out at the tops of tall grasses and shrubs in areas where animals tend to travel. When an animal – or a human – passes by they will attach themselves to feed on the blood of their hosts. Ticks can transmit diseases to human hosts; in this area, Colorado Tick Fever is the most commonly-transmitted disease (much moreso than Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever).

When outside, try to walk on trails away from vegetation; when you brush against vegetation, ticks can get on you. Dress to cover skin by wearing long sleeves and long pants. Pull your socks over the cuffs of your pants to prevent ticks from finding your skin.

Insect repellents that contains DEET can be effective in repelling ticks.

Do a "tick check" every few hours when outside, checking yourself and your children carefully, head to toe. Ticks like tight places, like waistbands and tops of socks, hairlines, underarms, crotch areas, etc. Ticks can take up to several hours to embed, which gives you time to find them first and remove them.

If you find a tick, remove it as soon as possible, carefully and properly so you don’t leave its head embedded which can cause infection. Use tweezers and grab the tick as close to the skin as possible and slowly pull the tick straight out. Then wash and disinfect the area carefully and thoroughly.

Don’t just throw a tick away! Dispose of a live tick by either covering it completely and thoroughly on all sides with tape; or put it in a container of rubbing alcohol, or flush it down the toilet.

Remember - Think SAFE – Stay SAFE




Jeff
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Sunday, April 7, 2019

Spring weather brings the reminder to be Bear Aware in Colorado

The official start to spring brings the annual reminder from Colorado Parks and Wildlife that bears are emerging from their slumber and beginning the search for food. Residents and visitors to bear country statewide need to do their part to help conserve our wildlife by working to reduce the chances of human-bear interactions.

Improper food storage and forgetting to lock a vehicle resulted in a Breckenridge resident's car being destroyed in just the first week of April.

"We stress it every year, small behaviors by people can make a huge difference for bears," said Tom Davies, district wildlife manager in Summit County. "We need people to keep cars and garages locked, keep attractants out of reach and properly use and lock bear-proof trash cans. When you are living in bear country, you have a responsibility to follow ordinances and be conscientious. If you don't, you should expect that we will be issuing warnings and fines."

In some Colorado communities, bears were spotted during normal winter rest periods because ample food was available all season as humans failed to practice good bear aware behavior. In Breckenridge, two bears that had access to trash all winter not only didn't hibernate, but put on over 60 pounds.

"Some bears near our cities don't hibernate because there is a constant source of food ranging from garbage to bird feeders to dog food and whatever they can find in open garages," said Frank McGee, area wildlife manager for the Pikes Peak region. "That is why we asked Manitou Springs to pass an ordinance to mandate bear-proof trash cans. And we believe it's working. We're making a similar effort with Colorado Springs."

In the spring, bears should find natural food sources when they emerge from hibernation as new plants and grasses begin to sprout. Bears are omnivores and primarily eat vegetation such as grasses, forbs, berries, acorns, and seeds – food sources that span their waking seasons. But if natural food becomes scarce, or if human-provided food is easy to access, bears will begin looking in residential areas for their next meal.

Though most human-bear interactions occur in the late summer months, a late frost or prolonged dry weather could lead to localized natural food failures, pushing black bears to be more persistent in their search for human-food sources. Being bear aware not only protects your home and property, but it can also save a bear’s life.

“Our area staff worked hard this winter to get some rehabilitated orphaned cubs back into the wild and give them a second chance at life in the wild,” said Kristin Cannon, area wildlife manager for Area 2, covering Boulder and Estes Park. ”The hard reality is that most orphaned cubs lose their mother due to humans being careless with trash and feed. When a bear has easy access to garbage or pet food, the need for calories will trump that animal’s natural fear of humans. Unfortunately, that makes bear conflicts much more likely to occur.”

We all play a role in minimizing interactions with bears by establishing strong bear-aware habits that can help prevent conflicts throughout the year.

Tips to prevent human/bear conflicts include:

•Keep garbage in a well-secured enclosure and only put out garbage on the morning of pickup; bring in empty cans back inside before dark.
•Use a bear-resistant trash can or dumpster. These are available online or from your trash hauler.
•Clean all garbage cans regularly to keep them odor free. The scent of ammonia can deter bears.
•Take down all bird feeders by April 15 – bird feeders are a major source of bear/human conflicts. Birds don't need to be fed during the spring and summer. Hang feeders again in mid-November.
•Don't leave pet food or stock feed outside – never provide food sources for any wildlife.
•Keep garage doors and windows closed and locked, especially between dusk and dawn.
•Don’t leave attractants such as snacks, food wrappers, gum, or even scented hand lotions in your car; and always lock vehicle doors.
•Use bear boxes or bear-proof containers for food and scented items when camping.
•Don't leave food outside while camping. If bear boxes aren't available local all food in a vehicle.
•Review CPW’s Bearproofing Your Home Fact Sheet and conduct a home audit to be sure you are not attracting bears to your property.
•Talk to your neighbors and kids about being bear aware.

For more information about Living with Bears in Colorado, visit https://cpw.state.co.us/bears.



Jeff
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Thursday, April 4, 2019

Decision Reached On Exotic Plant Management Plan In Rocky Mountain National Park

The National Park Service has released the Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the Exotic Plant Management Plan at Rocky Mountain National Park. This decision document enables the park to improve management of invasive exotic plants by using the most effective available control methods. The park will adopt an adaptive Integrated Pest Management (IPM) decision-making framework that incorporates the best available science, expert knowledge, site assessments, and monitoring to determine the extent of exotic species infestations, determine if management is necessary, and determine the most effective methods. Management actions will be prioritized based on the level of threat to park resources, the size and extent of species infestations, and the park’s ability to control those infestations.

The number of invasive exotic plant species in the park has grown over the years despite control efforts. Invasive exotic plants are capable of spreading rapidly, outcompeting native plants, and drastically altering ecosystem conditions and processes. Non-native invasive plants are appearing at increasing elevations in the park, as well. Cheatgrass, which was limited to the lowest elevations of the park twenty years ago, is now spreading to areas above 9,500 feet in elevation.

An Environmental Assessment was prepared in November, 2018, to examine alternative actions and environmental impacts associated with the Exotic Plant Management Plan. Initial public scoping for the project began in October 2016, and 3 public meetings followed in November 2016.



Jeff
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Monday, April 1, 2019

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to meet April 10 in Denver

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will discuss recommended trail funding allocations, recommended non-motorized trail grants, 2019 Wildlife Habitat Program, Baker’s Peak Ranch request for funding proposal, CPW research contributions, 2020 - 2024 Big Game Season Structure public outreach results, Partners in the Outdoors program, Colorado mountain lion management, and the Eldorado Canyon to Walker Ranch Connection feasibility study at its April meeting.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 8:30 a.m. and adjourn at 5 p.m. on April 10 at CPW’s Hunter Education Building at 6060 Broadway in Denver.

Additional agenda items include:

• Emergency regulations for migratory game birds/waterfowl
• Public Access Working Group
• Department of Agriculture Update
• Department of Natural Resources Update
• Financial Update
• GOCO Update
• Colorado Lottery Update •Executive Session

A complete agenda for this meeting can be found on the CPW website.

The commission meets regularly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation. Anyone can listen to commission meetings through the CPW website. This opportunity keeps constituents informed about the development of regulations and how the commission works with Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to manage the parks, wildlife and outdoor recreation programs administered by the agency. Find out more about the commission on the CPW website.

The next commission meeting will take place May 9 - 10 in Grand Junction.



Jeff
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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Feeding wildlife during winter does more harm than good

Even though temperatures are warming, for wildlife Colorado remains in the depths of winter; and despite the recent snow storms Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds citizens that big-game wildlife do not need our help. Feeding big game in Colorado is not only illegal but also does more harm than good.

Also, people should not approach big-game because it will force the animals to move unnecessarily and burn calories they can’t afford to lose.

“Native species are well adapted to survive the winter months on natural food sources,” said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Montrose. “Feeding big game, especially deer, whether it’s hay, corn, dog food or other livestock-type food, can kill them. Their digestive systems aren’t designed to handle these types of rich foods.”

Unfortunately, every year, some people decide to feed big game and every year big-game die as a consequence. CPW wildlife managers recently have received reports of dead deer in the San Luis Valley and Gunnison Basin. Wildlife officers examined the stomach contents of the some of the carcasses they found them to be full of corn, grain, bird seed and other food that the deer couldn’t digest. The deer died with stomachs full of food that people had provided.

“People want to help. But the reality of it is that feeding doesn’t help wildlife, it harms them,” DelPiccolo said. “Winter is a tough time of year, and it has always been how nature eliminates the sick, the weak and less-fit animals from the population. It’s ironic, but the toughest time of the year is what makes wildlife populations healthy.”

Big-game often lose 30-40 percent of their body weight during the winter. Most are able to live off the fat they’ve stored from the summer and from some available forage they find during the winter. Big game are now running on empty, so don’t do anything that would make them move unnecessarily.

“Leaving them alone is the best way to help big game during the winter,” DelPiccolo said.

Feeding animals can cause other problems. When deer crowd around a food source they can transfer diseases or parasites from animal to animal. When animals bunch up they also become easy targets for predators, including mountain lions. Feeding big game can also draw them away from their natural habitats and disturb migration patterns. In some areas, deer that have been fed during the winter haven’t moved on as they should when spring arrives.

Feeding is not just a concern with big game. CPW also advises people to refrain from feeding small animals such as coyotes, foxes, squirrels, bobcats, rabbits, chipmunks or turkeys. These animals also aren’t equipped to eat human-provided food. And just like deer, animals can bunch up, draw in predators and create unnecessary conflicts.

Wild animals are unpredictable and can be dangerous to people who decide to get close to them. They can be particularly aggressive or defensive around food sources, during breeding seasons and when they have dependent young nearby.

“Winter in Colorado is often a great time to watch big game animals. They are more visible when they congregate on low-elevation, more open winter ranges,” explained DelPiccolo. “Please, observe them from a distance, keep your dog on a leash and don’t be tempted to offer any food.”

For more information about wildlife in Colorado, see cpw.state.co.us.



Jeff
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Monday, March 18, 2019

Magic Feather Collaborative Forest Restoration Project Decision Signed

The Canyon Lakes District Ranger on the Roosevelt National Forest has signed the decision for the Magic Feather Collaborative Forest Restoration Project. This project was done in cooperation with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and Coalition for the Poudre River Watershed. The decision calls for prescribed burning on 5,536 acres of National Forest System (NFS) lands and 793 acres of non-NFS lands.

The project is located near Red Feather Lakes, Colo., and consists of ponderosa pine, aspen, riparian areas and mixed conifer stands. This landscape-scale, cross-jurisdictional restoration project will help reduce the risk of wildfires and improve watershed health, while returning ponderosa pine and mixed conifer stands to a more natural, resilient state.

“The cooperation among agencies, organizations and private land owners has been outstanding,” District Ranger Katie Donahue said. “We appreciate everyone’s hard work and know that the collaborative nature of this project will make it a success.”

Non-NFS lands include Colorado Parks and Wildlife and private land. Implementation of the prescribed burn could begin as soon as spring 2019.

Detailed information on this project, a project map and the decision is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/MagicFeather.



Jeff
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