Controversial Plan Would Allow Elk Herd To Be Hunted

Controversial Plan Would Allow Elk Herd To Be Hunted

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WE HAVE PUT A LINK TO THAT SURVEY AT CBSDENVER.COM. YOU’LL FIND IT UNDER THE LINKS AND INFO SECTION. COVERING COLORADO FOR YOU TONIGHT IN BOULDER COUNTY PEOPLE NOW WEIGHING IN ON A CONTROVERSIAL PLAN TO ALLOW A HERD OF ELK TO BE HUNTED. WILDLIFE OFFICERS SAY THESE ANIMALS ARE CAUSING TOO MUCH DAMAGE TO THE ECO SYSTEM. THEY SAY THAT’S TOUGH ON THE HERD TOO. THE BIG HERD HANGS OUT AT THE RABBIT MOUNTAIN OPEN SPACE. THAT’S ON 55th AND DAKOTA RIDGE ROAD. SO WE WILL BE TALKING ABOUT CBS4 SHAUN BOYD AT TODAY’S PUBLIC HEARING. SHAUN, HUNTING WITHIN BOULDER COUNTY ALWAYS BRINGS CONTROVERSY. Reporter: YEAH. JIM, IN THIS CASE IT WOULD BE UNPRECEDENTED. BOULDER COUNTY HAS NEVER ALLOWED HUNTING ON OPEN SPACE BEFORE. PARKS AND OPEN SPACE OFFICIALS SAY THIS IS AN EMERGENCY. THE ELK HERD ON RABBIT MOUNTAIN THEY SAY HAS EXPLODED AND IS DESTROYING A HABITAT UNLIKE ANY IN THE WORLD. THEIR PLAN WOULD OPEN THE AREA TO TWO HUNTERS A WEEK EVERY FALL FOR TEN YEARS. BOULDER COUNTY’S RABBIT MOUNTAIN HAS TURNED ELK SANCTUARY HOME TO A COUPLE DOZEN ELK. TEN YEARS AGO THEY NOW PACK IN MORE THAN 350 AND COULD GROW TO 700 IN THE NEXT COUPLE OF YEARS. COUNTY OPEN SPACE SAYS IT’S TIME FOR THE HERD TO MOVE ON. OUR GOAL IS TO REDUCE THE LONG-TERM POPULATION ON RABBIT MOUNTAIN TO 30 TO 70 ELK. Reporter: ELK TYPICALLY MIGRATE, BUT OFFICIALS SAY THESE ELK HAVE REALIZED RABBIT MOUNTAIN IS A REFUGE FROM HUNTERS, SO THEY’VE STAYED RAIDING NEIGHBORING AG LAND AND DISRUPTING RARE ECO SYSTEMS. OPEN SPACE IS ASKING COUNTY COMMISSIONERS TO APPROVE HUNTING HERE FIVE MONTHS A YEAR THREE DAYS A WEEK. RESOURCE IMPACTS AND THE HEALTH OF THE ELK HERD ARE AT STAKE. I BELIEVE IN THE PUBLIC, THEY BELIEVE WHEN THEY VOTE FOR MORE OPEN SPACE TAXES THEY’RE NOT EXPECTING HUNTING. Reporter: SUZANNE WEBEL LIVES NEAR RABBIT MOUNTAIN AND HEADS UP THE COUNTY TRAILS COALITION. CLOSING THE OPEN SPACE ALMOST HALF THE YEAR FOR HALF A WEEK SO HUNTERS CAN TAKE OUT 50 ELK WON’T MAKE A DENT IN THE HERD AND WILL ONLY DISPLACE 20,000 TRAIL USERS LIKE HER. SHE SAYS IF IT’S AN EMERGENCY SITUATION BRING IN SHARPSHOOTERS TO TAKE OUT A LARGE NUMBER OF ELK IN A SHORT TIME. IT COULD BE DONE A WEEK A YEAR IN THE DEAD OF WINTER WHEN NOBODY GOES THERE ANY WAY. THIS PLAN IS PROPOSING TO CLOSE THE PARK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR WHEN EVERYBODY WANTS TO GO THERE. Reporter: NOW SHE’S NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO WANTS A MORE AGGRESSIVE APPROACH. OTHER NEIGHBORS SAY THE ELK HAVE CAUSED MORE THAN $100,000 IN DAMAGE TO THEIR FENCES AND THEIR CROPS. THEY ALSO SAY THE OPEN SPACE PLAN DOESN’T GO FAR ENOUGH. PUBLIC TESTIMONY HERE JUST WRAPPED UP AND THE COUNTY COMMISSIONERS ARE DELIBERATING AT THIS HOUR. IF THEY APPROVE THE PLAN IT WOULD GO INTO EFFECT THIS SEPTEMBER AFTER LABOR DAY.

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