Monthly Archives: November 2005

Colorado Lynx Left in the Cold by Habitat Plan


For Immediate Release: November 9, 2005


Jacob Smith, Executive Director, Center for Native Ecosystems, (303) 810-6017
Rob Edward, Carnivore Conservation Director, Sinapu, (303) 447-8655 ext. #2
Mark Pearson, Executive Director, San Juan Citizens Alliance, (970) 259-3583
Erik Molvar, Wildlife Biologist, Biodiversity Cons. Alliance, (307) 742-7978

Denver — Despite five years of lynx recovery efforts in Colorado, the birth of more than 100 wild lynx kittens, and broad scientific consensus about the importance of protecting lynx habitat, the proposed critical habitat plan for lynx released today by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service entirely omits Colorado, New Mexico, and southern Wyoming.

“We can release all the lynx in the world, and they can make a lot of kittens, but if we don’t also protect their habitat this entire effort will probably fail,” said Jacob Smith, Executive Director of Center for Native Ecosystems.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife began releasing lynx in Colorado in 1999. Although the earliest efforts faltered, subsequent releases have resulted in more than 200 adult lynx released in Colorado and more than 100 lynx kittens born in the wild.

There is broad consensus among lynx biologists that protecting lynx habitat is an important factor in their long-term survival. Much of the lynx research conducted focuses precisely on the question of what that habitat is and how much lynx need. Two key documents include the Lynx Science Report and the Lynx Conservation Assessment and Strategy.

“Colorado has done a terrific job so far with its lynx recovery program. The one missing and critical piece is protecting lynx habitat,” said Rob Edward, Carnivore Conservation Director of Sinapu. “Stewardship of lynx demands stewardship of lynx habitat.”

Most lynx habitat in Colorado is located on federal land, so the burden of adopting habitat protection plans falls squarely on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the agency responsible for recovering the lynx) and the U.S. Forest Service (responsible for managing most lynx habitat in Colorado). Not only is the Fish and Wildlife Service completely abrogating its responsibility to help recover Colorado’s lynx population, the Forest Service, too, is failing to protect lynx habitat. As documented in a November 2003 report, the Forest Service has been promising since February 2000 to adopt a region wide lynx conservation plan. Nearly six years later this commitment remains unfulfilled.

“The new city of 10,000 people atop Wolf Creek Pass proposed by Texas developer Red McCombs is located smack dab in the heart of the most critical habitat linkage for lynx in all of Colorado,” explained Mark Pearson, Executive Director of San Juan Citizens Alliance. “That’s why we need critical habitat protected for lynx, so the Forest Service does not willy nilly approve massive real estate developments and destroy the ability of reintroduced lynx and their kittens to thrive in Colorado.”

“Thanks to the Colorado reintroduction efforts, there are now lynx moving into and even denning in Wyoming,” said Erik Molvar, a wildlife biologist with Biodiversity Conservation Alliance. “But we’ll never recover lynx if we don’t protect lynx habitat.”



Cougar hunters to be required to take class

Metro/Regional Briefs
The Denver Post

The Colorado Wildlife Commission on Thursday decided to require mountain lion hunters to take a hunter-education class.

The requirement probably will become effective sometime in 2007, said Randy Hampton, a Division of Wildlife spokesman.

The class probably will focus on issues such as how to distinguish male and female lions and will cover trespassing rules.

Several conservation groups had requested that the class be required in order to reduce the number of female lions killed each year. They argue that too many females are killed, orphaning kittens.

“I think the commission deserves some credit for taking this step,” said Wendy Keefover- Ring, director of the carnivore protection program for Sinapu, a Boulder-based wildlife advocacy group. “We think it could go a long way in preventing kittens from being orphaned.”

Hunter education on mountain lions OK'd

Summit Daily News

GREELEY – In response to hunters and wildlife advocates, the Colorado Wildlife Commission has mandated hunter education on the not-so-obvious differences between male and female mountain lions.

The goal of Thursday’s action is to prevent hunters from killing female mountain lions with kittens, which would die without their mother to care for them. Training rules kick in Jan. 1, 2007. Details will be considered once the program is developed.

Among the differences – males are larger, have bigger paws and longer strides than females.

The commission received petitions supporting the program from Sinapu, a Boulder-based wildlife advocacy group, the Colorado Outfitters Association and the United Houndsmen.

“I think it’s a huge victory. It’s going to protect the female population,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring, director of Sinapu’s carnivore protection program.

Keefover-Ring said she believed Colorado is the first state to mandate such education for hunters.

Commissioners, which sets policy for the state Division of Wildlife, also lowered the maximum number of mountain lions that can be killed next year to 557 from 567, a slight decrease compared with last year’s drop to 567 from 790. Members also approved a 10-year study of mountain lions on the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado to establish basic data on mountain lions and shape management policy.

Wildlife Is Unjustified Scapegoat for Livestock Losses

Predation Accounts for Only Miniscule Percentage of Cow & Sheep Deaths

Wendy Keefover-Ring, Sinapu (303) 447-8655, ext 1
Chas Offutt, PEER, (301) 524-1158

Washington, DC — Wildlife account for only a miniscule percentage of cattle deaths and a tiny portion of sheep and goats losses, according to new U.S. Department of Agricultural figures released today by two environmental groups, Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In fact, domestic dogs kill more livestock than any other carnivore except coyotes.

The figures raise questions about the utility of taxpayers spending approximately $100 million per year on predation control. Last year, a branch of USDA called Wildlife Services killed a record 2.7 million “nuisance” wildlife, including 75,674 coyotes, 3,907 foxes, 1,918 bobcats, 445 badgers, 397 black bears, 359 mountain lions and 191 wolves, principally to benefit the livestock industry.

The USDA figures show that wildlife accounted for only two-tenths of one percent of total cattle and calves lost per year. Wolves, often the bugaboo of cattlemen, are responsible for fewer cattle losses than any other predator (two-hundredths of one percent). Total domestic cattle production is estimated at 97,309,000 per year while wildlife predation amounts to only 147,000.

“Our tax dollars are wasted financing an arsenal of airplanes, poisons and traps to kill coyotes and bobcats,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that Congress is now looking for ways to cut USDA’s budget to pay for Hurricane Katrina costs but is looking at programs such as food stamps and wetlands protections. “Federal wildlife control is an unjustified subsidy for the livestock industry and should be one of the first cuts when it comes to economizing.”

For sheep and goats, 224,200 of an industry total of 7.65 million animals (approximately three percent) were killed by mammalian and avian carnivores, principally eagles, in 2004. Nearly twice as many sheep and goats (approximately five percent) were lost due to weather, age, theft, fire, poison and lambing complications.

Coyotes are responsible for the majority of all livestock predation. In response, USDA pays for an array of efforts that kill between 75,000 and 90,000 coyotes each year.

“The U.S. is engaged in an endless air and ground war against the coyote but with little to show for it other than the carnage,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, pointing to research that many of the coyotes taken are not involved in sheep kills. “It is high time to begin exploring non-lethal means of wildlife control because what we are currently doing makes little biological or economical sense.”

Historically, USDA publishes livestock predation numbers without providing baseline production numbers so that the significance or lack thereof, of wildlife-caused losses was masked. Sinapu and PEER have produced reports that combine the previously separated USDA figures.


View the USDA’s “Cattle Predator Loss” figures

See cattle predation breakdown

Look at the USDA (2005) “Sheep and Goats Death Loss” report

See sheep predation breakdown

Revisit federal wildlife kill totals (2.7 million animals) for 2004 with species-by-species tabulations