Colorado Wildlife Commission to Decide This Thursday

Trap Special Species Like Swift Foxes and Pine Martens?
Media Advisory:  Monday, July 10, 2006

Contact: Wendy Keefover-Ring, Director of Carnivore Protection Program Sinapu:  303.447.8655, Ext. 1#

On Thursday July 13th, the Colorado Wildlife Commission will decide in Fort Collins, Colorado whether or not to grant trappers’ request to cull wildlife that are now currently off limits, including swift and gray foxes and pine martens.

At the April meeting of the Wildlife Commission, the Colorado Division of Wildlife officially recommended that the Wildlife Commission avoid the controversy by maintaining “the status quo”—that is not to allow trapping of special species.

But in an end-run around their own recommendation, last week the DOW presented an alternative document to the Wildlife Commission—two days after the public comment period ended on June 28th.  The DOW’s June 30th “Analysis of Furbearer Seasons” offers the Wildlife Commission a back-door solution to permit trapping of opossum, mink, marten, long- and short-tailed weasels, and swift foxes.

The DOW’s criteria for allowing additional trapping:

1.    The economic value of pelts.

2.    Whether species cause “damage,” that is, agricultural losses to farmers or ranchers).

3.    That trapping would not harm populations based on the DOW’s “Terrestrial staff opinion”—but not scientific studies.

On July 6th, 14 conservation groups responded to the DOW’s Furbearer Analysis, finding several flaws:

1)   The DOW used utilitarian values (i.e. the price of a pelt and agricultural damage), but did not weigh other social values (i.e. wildlife watching) as part of their assessment.  As a result, the DOW failed to consider the fact that wildlife watchers spend $1.3 billion in Colorado.

2)   The DOW failed to examine the costs of monitoring and administering this trapping program, including law enforcement duties.

3)   The DOW did not use scientific studies to come to their conclusion to allow trapping, yet, little is known about all these species except swift foxes—and even they need special care.

4)   The DOW recommended that private trappers could help in swift fox relocation programs, but failed to acknowledge that swift foxes are easily injured and that private trappers could not be held accountable under the Animal Welfare Act.

Sinapu et al. recommends that the Wildlife Commission adopt the DOW staffs’ official position of maintaining the status quo.

Swift foxes were removed as a candidate for listing under the Endangered Species Act in 2001, and little population data exists, although Colorado is the source for this species’ recovery.  A few Colorado-born swift foxes have been relocated to Badlands National Park because South Dakota subpopulations had been extinguished.

The Colorado Trappers’ Association had requested that they be allowed to trap  swift foxes, gray foxes, long- and short-tailed weasels, pine martens, minks, ringtails, western-spotted skunks, and opossums.  Trappers would kill the trapped animals and sell the fur.

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View the DOW’s Analysis of Furbearer

Seasons by clicking here.

View Sinapu’s et al’s July 2007 Response
to the DOW’s Furbearer Analysis

by clicking here.


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