Monthly Archives: October 2007

The Trick is Not to Treat the Bears!

Boulder, CO – Sinapu, Sierra Club and In Defense of Animals are canvassing Boulder neighborhoods west of Broadway this fall and “tagging” residences that attract bears. The non-citation tags developed by the groups warn:

• Put your garbage out the morning of pickup only, and ask your trash company about bear proof containers.
• Bring bird feeders in at night and clean grounds of seeds and hulls.
• Harvest fruit trees as they ripen and clean up fallen fruit.

The groups have discussed trash code enforcement matters with Boulder City Council and city officials. The groups have also met with the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) to pinpoint neighborhoods that have had numerous bear interactions. City and state officials and the three wildlife groups hope to encourage people to come into compliance with state laws and local ordinances concerning bear attractants.

Colorado Revised Statute does not allow people to knowingly attract bears with food or edible waste. Fines can be levied for attracting bears with garbage, bird feeders, pet food, or BBQ grills. Violators are subject to fines: $100 for 1st offense, $500 for 2nd, and $1000 for 3rd and subsequent offenses (C.R.S. §33-6-131.)

Boulder’s trash ordinance requires that trash and recycling may only be put out the same day as collection. Non-compliance may result in a fine of $100 or $1000 (Boulder Revised Code §6-3-5e and §5-2-4.)

In Colorado, bears that are deemed a “nuisance” are tagged. If they are caught a second time they are killed by the DOW under the agency’s “two-strike” policy.

Billie Gutgsell and Morgan Crowley of Sinapu have been coordinating the volunteer effort on behalf of the wildlife organizations. “We’re encouraged that students and community residents have been helping out with this public education campaign,” Crowley said.

“We’re hoping that if we can educate people, then they will take responsibility and work to not attract bears to residences and businesses with fallen tree fruit, bird feeders, and easily accessible garbage. If we can do this then we can save bears,” said Gutgsell.

“It’s especially important that cubs don’t learn these behaviors from their mothers, and that we give them a chance to stay wild,” Crowley added.

To volunteer for the tag team and bear smart citizen campaign, call Morgan Crowley, Sinapu, 720.771.9268

Billie Gutgsell || Sinapu, Bear Aware Program Assistant || 303.447.8655, Ext. 0#


View the Groups’ Non-citation Ticket

View Sinapu’s Letter to Boulder City Council Concerning Trash Code Enforcement and Bear Mortality Data

View Sinapu’s Bear Aware Brochure


Federal Government Killing Record Number of Carnivores

Mammal Death Toll Up 21% in 2006 with Growing Numbers of Wolves Targeted

Washington, DC — The federal government is killing record numbers of warm-blooded animals, particularly carnivores, according to agency statistics compiled by Sinapu and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). In addition, the number of federally protected wolves killed has been steadily rising – up six-fold over the past decade – with nearly 300 wolves dispatched last year alone.

Wildlife Services, a euphemistically named arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, spent $108 million in 2006 to kill more than 1.6 million animals deemed a “nuisance” to ranchers, farmers, and others. That total includes a record number of mammals (207,341) up more than 21% over the previous year, including a record number of animals protected under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“We have one arm of the federal government trying to protect wildlife while a different arm is doing its best to eradicate the same animals – how much sense does that make?” asked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “Our federal government does not have a coherent let alone coordinated wildlife policy.”

The 2006 Wildlife Service kill totals for mammals were up sharply from previous years:

• A record number of gray wolves (278), the subject of a highly publicized reintroduction effort, were killed in numbers that are up more than six-fold since 1996;

• Another 116,610 mammalian carnivores, including 87,000 coyotes, 10,000 raccoons, 2,500 bobcats, 500 badgers, and 318 black bears were taken by federal wildlife agents who also killed 1,184 housecats and 512 dogs; and

• Approximately 50,000 animals from the rodent and rabbit families—the largest toll came from beavers (28,000), followed by nutria (2,500), and marmots and woodchucks (3,700).

“This annual carnage is just staggering,” said Wendy Keefover-Ring of Sinapu, noting that Wildlife Services killed approximately six million animals in the period between 2003 and 2005. “Wildlife Services is like the wildlife equivalent of Blackwater, shooting first and deflecting questions later.”

Notwithstanding the record mammal toll, the majority of animals exterminated by Wildlife Services were birds, including more than a million starlings, and thousands of other avian species:

• Water birds such as 15,855 cormorants, 469 herons, 2,373 ducks, 13,603 geese, and 18,243 gulls;

• Raptors, including 298 hawks, 505 owls, and 12 osprey, as well as 4,871 vultures (important environmental actors that clean up carcasses); and

• 37,391 blackbirds – because they eat grains and sunflower seeds.

The two groups are calling for the federal government to get out of the wildlife extermination business and to divert resources toward management of wildlife populations that are coming into greater conflict with sprawling human development.


See Wildlife Service annual take of animals protected by the Endangered Species Act

View the mammal kill totals by year and species

Look at the effort to abolish Wildlife Services

Scan the 2006 Wildlife Services “Table of Animals Taken by Component Type and Fate”

Forest Service Rubber-Stamps Grazing in Wolf Recovery Zone

Conservation Groups Sue to Protect Lobos and Other Species

SANTA FE, NM – In the midst of New Mexico’s Wolf Awareness Week, Forest Guardians and Sinapu filed suit in federal district court today in order to overturn all decisions in which the Forest Service allowed livestock grazing on the Gila National Forest in New Mexico without public participation or consideration of impacts to endangered species. The Gila, a rich, biodiverse area measuring 3.3 million acres, supports a host of wildlife and protected species, and is ground zero for the Mexican gray wolf. In their lawsuit, the groups say that by overlooking conflicts between wolf recovery and livestock ranching on public lands, the Forest Service has not only broken federal law, but continues to contribute to the lobo’s demise.

A reintroduction program for the Mexican wolf began in 1998, with the goal that, by the end of 2006, the wild wolf population would number 102 animals, with 18 breeding pairs. Largely due to conflicts with livestock, the wild population of Mexican wolves numbered less than 60 individuals, with just 7 breeding pairs in December 2006. Continuing wolf removals in 2007 have further depressed these numbers, leaving the wild wolf population far short of the program’s goal. Continue reading

South Dakota Game & Fish: To Gun or not from the Air

South Dakota Game and Fish claims they can target coyotes and other predators that engage in livestock depredations.  Sinapu and a whole host of groups petitioned the agency to stop the program after their 4th aerial gunning accident.

Read today’s story.

Read the petition.

Here Kitty, Kitty

Two editorials — from either side of the state — with regards to the Nederland mountain lion incident.

Boulder Daily Camera 

Grand Junction Daily Sentinel

DOW will not file charges in mountain lion incident

Here’s a brief update from the Colorado Division of Wildlife on the mountain lion that was killed earlier this week in Nederland:

The Division of Wildlife (DOW) has found that the individual involved in the shooting of a mountain lion near Gross Reservoir on the morning of October 5 acted to prevent injury to human life. The DOW will not be filing any charges against him.

At 1:30 AM, Friday, October 5, a family staying near Gross Reservoir in Boulder County was awakened by noise outside their trailer. Stepping outside to investigate, they found their dog, which had been chained outside, in the mouth of a mountain lion. The man and his wife shouted at the lion in the hopes of getting it to release their dog to no avail. The man ran back to the trailer to get his rifle and upon stepping outside, shouted again at the lion.

Vanessa Miller, reporter for the Boulder Daily Camera, interviewed Kocar in a story that was published on October 8th.  In that version of events, Kocar shot the lion when it “looked up from the puppy in its clutches” and when he “confronted” the lion “‘He was thrashing the dog in its mouth.'”  In that story, Kocar bragged, “‘I’m from Wisconsin — and we take care of things there.'”

In subsequent stories, Kocar’s mother-in-law became his spokesperson and the story changed.  In later versions of the story, the lion took menacing steps towards Kocar before he shot it.

“Having completed our investigation, we’ve concluded this person acted in accordance with the law in protecting his personal safety,” said Kathi Green, Acting Northeast Regional Manager. “As always, we will continue to advocate that people take precautions when living or visiting lion country to prevent conflicts such as this incident.”

Ask Questions


“Take time to look, to observe. If you look you will become curious. If you become curious you will ask questions, and with every answer, be given more questions. As you learn, you garner a precious knowledge that belongs to you alone. With that knowledge you begin to care. If you care, you will not destroy.”

~ Anne Haymond Zwinger