Initiative 107 and the case for returning gray wolves to Colorado

wolf in snow howling

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019, biologist Mike Phillips presented “Wildness Restored: The Wolf’s Return to Colorado” at the University of Colorado Denver, the latest lecture in the Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture Series. He comes to Colorado at a pivotal moment — as state residents consider a proposed 2020 ballot measure to initiate a wolf restoration plan.

portrait of Mike Phillips
Wolf biologist and Montana state Senator Mike Phillips

Phillips is currently a Montana State Senator and Director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund. A biologist who previously worked on both the Red Wolf Recovery Program and the Wolf Restoration project at Yellowstone National Park, Phillips has conducted extensive wildlife research, though he specializes in large carnivores. Besides many articles in both peer-reviewed journals and popular magazines, Phillips is the author of “The Wolves of Yellowstone.” In other words, he is a well-recognized wolf expert.

As such, Phillips has to contend with our country’s troubled history with wolves. Europeans settlers virtually eradicated wolves, first through independent hunting and trapping, and later through government-sanctioned wolf extirpation programs (involving mass poisoning, among other inhumane killing methods) that left the species almost extinct. Why? “Manifest destiny,” Phillips explains, “which demanded a zealous embrace of the determination to tame the land and its wild inhabitants.”

But the large-scale destruction of wild animals, including bison, grizzlies, wolves, and elk, eventually prompted a call to action. “The entire science of wildlife management grew out of a need for things to shoot because the great game herds had been destroyed,” Phillips said. Once the U.S. realized it needed to reverse the trend toward species extinction, it passed the Endangered Species Act, which protected threatened and endangered plants and animals and their habitats. This ushered in a new era of conservation — and the wolf once again became a central metaphor for how we view wildness.

The real wolf vs. the mythic wolf

In addition to history, Phillips has to contend with popular culture, which has largely depicted the wolf as a vicious predator. In this regard, the United States is not alone. For centuries, and across continents, the wolf has been at the center of stories and fables, serving as a convenient symbol. And many wolf myths are aimed at children, which prompted the Rocky Mountain Wolf Project (RMWP) to produce a video titled “Meet the Real Wolf” (see above).

Phillips is forced to discuss the wolf in this context, acknowledging the mythic wolf while providing information about the real wolf: “The real wolf has been studied exhaustively over many decades. The real wolf is one of the most studied large mammals in the world. The real wolf is not even a shadow of the mythical wolf — it’s the mythical wolf that gets in the way of restoration,” Phillips said.

It’s important to change the narrative about the real wolf, especially in regards to social structure and survival. For wolves, family is of paramount importance, as explained in the RMWP video. Another misconception is that wolves are supreme killers, which is incorrect: “The real wolf — oh, my heavens. Life is a daily struggle. Starvation is a common cause of death. Puppies suffer the most of all. Most efforts to hunt end up with gray wolves coming up empty-pawed,” Phillips said.

adult wolf with wolf pup; photo by M L via Unsplash
“There are very good, successful models from the northern Rocky Mountains,” said Mike Phillips. “Reintroducing gray wolves is a certain affair.”

Initiative 107: restoration of gray wolves

Currently, the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund (RMWAF) is collecting signatures for a proposed 2020 ballot measure that would restore the gray wolf to Colorado. Rob Edward, president of RMWAF, summarized the petition: “Initiative 107 directs the Colorado Department of Wildlife & Parks to initiate a science-based wolf restoration plan, to include public input into the process, and to ultimately begin reintroducing wolves to designated lands west of the Continental Divide in Colorado no later than 2023.”

The final written version of Initiative 107 is available at the Colorado Secretary of State website. The measure does not establish its own plan for wolf reintroduction but rather asks the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission to “Develop a plan to restore and manage gray wolves in Colorado, using the best scientific data available.”

That is one of the strengths of the initiative, according to Phillips. “Initiative 107 does not aim to be a strong statement of wildlife management. 107 acknowledges the expertise of Colorado state and of wildlife biologists; it acknowledges the expertise of the state assembly. It is specifically written to take advantage of that expertise and those authorities,” he said.

Edward and the RMWAF team are in the process of collecting the required number of signatures for Initiative 107 to appear on the 2020 ballot (approximately 124,500 by Dec. 13, 2019). He hopes to gather at least 200,000 signatures. That may be the hardest part in the campaign to reintroduce wolves to Colorado, particularly since the state requires signatures to be collected in person. If Initiative 107 gets on the ballot, Edward said he is confident Colorado voters will approve the measure: “We have over two decades of polling data showing support for wolf restoration standing at over 70% statewide and 65% on the Western Slope.”

map of United States showing wild wolf population areas, courtesy of Wolf Conservation Center
According to the Wolf Conservation Center, Gray Wolves (Canis lupus) were once among the most widely distributed wild mammals. They inhabited most of the available land in the northern hemisphere. Due to the destruction of their habitat and persecution by humans, they now occupy only about 10 percent of their historic range in the continental 48 United States. 

Colorado is critical link in wolf range

According to Phillips, “Western Colorado represents the last great wolf restoration campaign.” This is because of Colorado’s geographic location —in between two wild wolf habitats. To Colorado’s north, wolf populations inhabit the northern Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest. To Colorado’s south, wolves inhabit the Southwest.

Renowned wolf expert L. David Mech, PhD, biologist and senior research scientist for the U.S. Department of the Interior, has been studying wolves since 1958. He writes: “Re-establishing wolves in western Colorado could connect the entire North American wolf population from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan through Canada and Alaska, down the Rocky Mountains into Mexico. It would be difficult to overestimate the biological and conservation value of this achievement.”

The state of Wyoming, however, poses a threat to a continuous Rocky Mountain wolf habitat since it delisted wolves from the Endangered Species list on April 25, 2017. Wolf management is now in the hands of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, which defined wolves as predatory animals in a large majority of the state. Wyoming’s policy will negatively influence wolf movement. “But with a population in Colorado, at least there will be animals that can move both from the south to the north and from the north to the south. With more animals involved, the prospect of connectivity improves,” Phillips said.

 map of Wyoming wolf management area
Map of Wolf Management Area from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

And connectivity is important because wolves, like other large predators, help maintain healthy ecosystems. This is one of the important arguments for wolf reintroduction to the state. In a 2001 article titled “The Importance of Large Carnivores to Healthy Ecosystems,” Phillips and his co-authors write, “The impacts of carnivores thus extends past the objects of their predation. Because herbivores eat seeds and plants, predation on that group influences the structure of the plant community. The plant community, in turn, influences distribution, abundance, and competitive interaction within groups of birds, mammals, and insects.”

When asked to put this concept into everyday language, Phillips said: “Let’s assume that life is a most powerful force in the universe. If that’s true, then death has to be equally important … Life matters and death matters. Prey matters and predators matter … Gray wolves just happen to be good at moving life in the direction of adaptation—good at shaping life because they’re good at picking out those that are predisposed to die.” He explained what decades of wolf research has established: wolves prey on the weak.

Wolves could potentially mitigate chronic wasting disease

According to a Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) report from Dec. 2018, chronic wasting disease (CWD), a neurological illness similar to mad cow disease, is a growing concern: “As of July 2018, at least 31 of Colorado’s 54 deer herds (57%), 16 of 43 elk herds (37%), and two of nine moose herds (22%) are known to be infected with CWD.” And the incidence of CWD is growing quickly: the same report cites “greater than a tenfold increase in CWD prevalence” in some mule deer herds since the early 2000s.

People cannot easily detect animals with CWD. For example, CPR News recounted the experience of Eric Washburn, an experienced hunter who shot and killed a mule buck in Northern Colorado. The animal had a “thick coat and massive rack of antlers,” but mandatory testing found it had CWD. Washburn, who was forced to throw away “all of that beautiful meat” instead of using it to feed his family, learned an important lesson: “It just showed me you can’t tell by looks which deer are diseased and which are not.”

This incident turned Washburn into an unlikely ally for the pro-wolf-reintroduction movement, as a hunter working for the RMWAF in the hopes that wolves would help curb CWD. Biologist Gary Wolfe, a former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioner, points out that wolves target diseased animals. While there is no direct evidence that wolves mitigate CWD — only past studies related to wolves hunting animals with other diseases and a study on mountain lions preying on CWD-infected mule deer— Wolfe cites the inverse relationship between wolf population distribution and CWD-infected herds in the Mountain West. “That’s circumstantial evidence, but to me that’s a piece of circumstantial evidence that says that wolf predation can help slow the spread of the disease,” he states.

Opposition to wolves in Colorado

Other hunters, as well as ranchers and concerned citizens, strongly oppose Initiative 107. Some of them believe that wolves might increase the CWD problem by spreading it throughout prey herds. But there is no evidence that wolves increase the occurrence of CWD.

Stop the Wolf, an organization firmly against wolf reintroduction, has published a fact sheet titled “Wolves & Chronic Wasting Disease” that counters: “Wolves … act as an agent of dispersion and displace big game herds from their traditional habitat.” While their fact sheet does include accurate data concerning CWD from the Centers for Disease Control, the organization also disseminates misinformation and promotes fear. For example, another fact sheet titled “Wolves & Human Safety” claims “Now environmentalists teach children that it is safe to pet a wild wolf.”

There are more reasonable arguments that could be made against wolf reintroduction to Colorado, including the following: wolves will kill cattle and other livestock, wolves will kill prey animals like deer and elk, hunters could kill wolves, and wolves could harm humans. In response to many of these arguments, it’s fair to state that wolves are predators: Their presence or absence needs to be considered within the context of ecosystems and within the context of competing species, including humans.

Phillips addressed three of the counter-arguments in his lecture at CU Denver, anticipating the concerns of ranchers, hunters, and fearful citizens. Under Initiative 107, ranchers would be paid for any livestock killed by wolves. He also reviewed the current estimated elk and deer herd populations in Colorado and used figures from Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho to illustrate that wolves would make only a minor impact on Colorado’s hunting seasons. “Coexisting requires only a modicum of accommodation,” he concluded.

Elk population and harvest data across the northern Rocky Mountain states in years before and after wolf reintroduction
Elk population and harvest data across the northern Rocky Mountain states in years before and after wolf reintroduction. Data from state game departments, courtesy of Mike Phillips.

History of human–wolf interactions

The last point—that wolves might kill humans—might be the most important argument to address, given the complex history between humans and wolves in the United States (and elsewhere). European settlers and their descendants took a very common species and virtually exterminated it. Phillips said, “The gray wolf was destroyed relentlessly … killed for no great reason.”

Fear, of course, was at least part of the reason humans killed wolves. A report titled “The Fear of Wolves: A Review of Wolf Attacks on Humans,” published by Norway’s Ministry of the Environment in 2002, examined literature and first-hand accounts of wolf attacks on people from Scandinavia, continental Europe, Asia, and North America, including written documents from as far back as the fifteenth century. The report lists 18 authors and more than 90 contributors from more than 30 countries. Have there been wolf attacks on humans? Yes. But they dramatically decreased in the 20th century and the majority of attacks involved rabid wolves. The report concludes: “Unprovoked attacks by non-rabid wolves on people are very rare, and the vast majority of wolves do not regard people as being prey.”

Norman A. Bishop, who worked for the National Park Service for 36 years, addressed the issue of human safety closer to home. In an email, he wrote: “I served as a park ranger in Yellowstone from 1980 to 1997, and I led hundreds of people afield to view and study wolves between 1999 and 2005. I never saw anything that gave me a hint of concern about my safety or that of my companions.”

Bishop also provided data from Yellowstone. “From 1995 to 2018, Yellowstone hosted 101,070,722 visitors, none of whom was injured by a wolf.” For people who argue that it’s the backcountry campers who might be in greatest danger, Bishop cited 2.7 million tent campers in Yellowstone from 1995 to 2018—and “no camper was injured by a wolf.”

group of wolves in the snow; photo by Eva Blue via Unsplash
Mike Phillips explains that with a good wolf reintroduction plan, “Within a decade, you could easily imagine 100 gray wolves or more free-ranging across the woodlands of Colorado.”

Direct democracy and wolf restoration

During a Q&A after his lecture, Phillips addressed concerns raised by two opponents to wolf restoration. Ultimately, he returned to the exact language that begins Initiative 107: “Be it enacted by the people of the state of Colorado.”

This echoes what he said in an earlier interview with CU Denver. “It’s left to Coloradans to decide, based on the nature of their heart.”

Garfield County commissioners don’t want to let wolves in

Grey Wolf
Walking Grey Wolf.
Getty Images

Garfield County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a resolution opposing reintroducing wolves to Colorado. But the county’s resolution may not matter when voters head to the ballot box next year.

“I’m amazed that people want to do something like this, because I don’t think it would be good for anyone, in any way,” Commissioner Mike Samson said of efforts to bring wolves into the state.

But in fact, many people in Colorado want wolves here, according to one 2019 poll.

With so many supporting wolves in Colorado, Rob Edward, founder and president of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund backing the initiative, says it’s high time to get started.

Edward is behind the effort of putting wolf introduction on the ballot for Colorado’s November 2020 general election. The initiative requires creating plans and bringing wolves into Colorado by the end of 2023.

Edward is confident that volunteers have collected enough signatures to put it on the ballot.

He’s also convinced of broad support for wolf introduction.

“We have the Western Slope with us, it’s just a matter of helping people understand the nuances of living with wolves,” Edward said.

On the Western Slope, where the wolves would be introduced if Initiative 107 passes, 61% of respondents favored wolf introduction, according to the poll.

Those opposed to wolf reintroduction have a number of concerns.

“Not only do (wolves) kill the cattle, but they bother them, they chase them around and stir them up,” and as a result, there are fewer cattle pregnancies, Garfield County rancher Frank Daley told the commissioners.

Based on his experience with coyotes, Daley also worries that the cattle made anxious by wolves will break fences and injure calves.
“We definitely don’t need to add in another predator,” he said.

The impact on wildlife is another concern.

“We do not want to have wolves reintroduced into the state of Colorado for many reasons, one of which is that it would be devastating for the moose, elk and deer populations of our state, not to mention domestic livestock such as cattle and sheep,” Samson said.

The effect of wolves on elk and deer where they have been reintroduced in isn’t completely settled.

Wolves appear to be a factor in declining elk herds in Yellowstone National Park, but elsewhere, like Montana, elk herds are increasing.

In 2004, the Colorado Department of Wildlife, which has since been renamed Parks and Wildlife, commissioned the wolf working group, recommended managing wolves that came into the state, but tabled reintroduction efforts.

Garfield County commissioners see their opposition as continuing that management plan.

“The wolves are kind of introducing themselves and they are getting into Colorado from Wyoming and the southern part from New Mexico,” Jankovsky said.

Two potential gray wolf sitings in 2019 are being investigated by state wildlife officials.

According to Edward, who was a member of the wolf working group, going to the voters is appropriate.

“It’s not circumventing the DOW or the Wildlife Commission. It very explicitly involves them. It simply says, ‘The people want you to do this, so do it,’” Edward said.

Group collects 168,000 signatures to put gray wolf restoration initiative on Colorado ballot

PROMO 64J1 Animal - Gray Wolf - USFWS
Published Saturday, October 12, 2019

By Derek Draplin | The Center Square

A group seeking voter approval to reintroduce gray wolves in Colorado says it has collected around 168,000 signatures to get the question put on the ballot.

That number is more than the 124,000 signatures needed to make the ballot, a spokesman for  the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, the primary backer of the initiative, told The Center Square. The group is aiming for 30,000 more signatures before it needs to submit them to the Secretary of State’s Office for verification by mid-December.

The Colorado Restore Gray Wolf Population Initiative would require the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission (CPW) to create and execute a plan to restore gray wolf populations on designated lands west of the continental divide.

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PROMO Animal - Wolves Hunting Elk Wolf - NPS

Wolves hunting elk in the Rocky Mountains. Courtesy National Park Service.

“When we succeed in safely restoring wolves to their home in Western Colorado, we will have closed the missing link and restored the gray wolf’s historical range from the High Arctic to Mexico,” RMWAF says on its website.

If passed, implementing the initiative would cost (CPW) over $344,000 in fiscal year 2021-22 and over $467,000 in fiscal year 2022-23, according to a legislative fiscal impact statement.

The Rocky Mountain Wolf Project, a parallel group to the action fund that educates on wolf restoration in the state, is backed by the Sierra Club Colorado, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Endangered Species Coalition, among other environmental groups.

The Stop the Wolf Coalition, which is made up of several farming, livestock and hunting groups, opposes the initiative, citing potential damage to livestock and wildlife, diseases, and overcrowding in the state.

“Forced wolf introduction is not only a disastrous idea that will impact our wildlife, livestock and Colorado’s growing population,but it’s also not fair to the wolves,” the coalition’s website says.

“A forced introduction of wolves to Colorado would cost untold amounts of taxpayer dollars, redirect already limited wildlife management resources and would have a significant negative economic impact to the state,” said Blake Henning, chief conservation officer for the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. “In Colorado, you are dealing with about a third of the land mass of the Northern Rockies’ states but almost double the human population. A forced reintroduction would trigger the potential for real issues in the state.”

Group Hoping To Get Wolf Reintroduction Measure On 2020 Ballot

By Dominic Garcia

JACKSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — A recent sighting of a possibly Gray Wolf in Jackson County has stirred up an old debate about reintroducing wolves to Colorado. Members of The Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund are currently gathering signatures to get a measure on the 2020 ballot to do that.

(credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife)

“We believe that the right thing to do is give the people of Colorado a voice in restoring the balance,” said Rob Edward, President of the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund.

Rob Edward (credit: CBS)

Edward says Colorado has the largest elk population in North America and one of the largest deer populations. He adds that without wolves, the two go unchecked and can cause destruction in places like Rocky Mountain National Park.

“The elk have stripped the river corridors bare. They’re putting fences around large swaths of the park in order to help the Aspen and willow regenerate. Wolves would change that dynamic over the course of a decade,” Edward told CBS4’s Dominic Garcia.

(credit: CBS)

But not everyone is excited about the recent wolf sighting. Phillip Anderson is a rancher in Jackson County, where the possible wolf was spotted. He worries about his livestock.

“We’re small ranchers and our livelihood depends on keeping the calf and lamb from the point in time it’s born to the time we market it, keeping it alive. We don’t want wolves here,” he told CBS4.

(credit: CBS)

Edward says he understands the concerns, and that’s why reimbursement to ranchers who lose livestock to wolves is in their ballot measure. But he adds that the overall threat is blown out of proportion.

“The fact is that wolves don’t pose a significant threat to livestock, and they don’t pose any threat to our burgeoning elk and deer population. In fact they pose the best answer to helping get things back in balance again.”

https://www.wolfactionfund.com/

Close encounters with the bear kind

The very places that attract visitors and newcomers for their proximity to wildlife grapple with a spike in bear-human incidents.


At the height of the tourist season at Rocky Mountain National Park in 2018, a plump black bear ambled into the lobby of the nearby Stanley Hotel. It climbed onto a large, cherry wood table, examined an antique couch, gave it a deliberate sniff and then sauntered back out the door it had come in.

Estes Park, Colorado, the gateway community to Rocky Mountain National Park, has what most would consider a problem. Overzealous bears regularly wander into unexpected and inappropriate human places: the warmly lit kitchens of residents, inviting alleyway garbage cans; they commonly thrash their way into tourist vehicles to investigate a scent.

As the population of Colorado’s Front Range swells, visitation to Rocky Mountain National Park, too, has spiked. That’s only meant more encounters with wildlife and increased reports of “problem” bears that have become highly accustomed to humans and consistently rummage for scraps.

But it’s the very possibility of encountering these animals that encourages so many people to move to places like Estes Park and to visit its surrounding wildish areas. As much as our proximity to wildlife confounds our natural resource managers, it continues to delight a great many humans.

In recent years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers have worked with the city of Estes Park to adopt practices to better cohabitate with our non-human neighbors. In 2015, the town passed a wildlife ordinance that’s lessened a hungry bear’s access to its greatest temptation: trash. Residents must use either a wild-resistant container or put trashcans outside only on pickup days. Beyond efforts among the residential streets, the city also replaced all of the public trash containers in 2016. And though it was an expensive project, a whopping $1,200 for each individual canister, the community pitched in through an innovative sponsorship program.

The city continues to educate newcomers and visitors through a regular “Bear Booth” at the weekly farmer’s market, and provides tip sheets for behavior to keep wildlife safe that are enclosed in city utility bills and newsletters. Residents are advised that all bird feeders must be suspended and out of reach of a clawing bear. Police department volunteer auxiliary officers help patrol garbage cans and dumpsters with weekly driving rounds and provide information to rule-breakers.

While the town has made progress, there are still challenges ahead. More people visited the area during the 2018 season — more than 4.5 million people — than ever before, a trend that is expected to continue, and many tourists are unaware of safe wildlife interaction practices. It’s also an ongoing challenge for wildlife managers and town officials to police the many new small-scale vacation rentals that pop up.

And while chubby black bears awkwardly navigating the ever-intruding human world are undeniably endearing —wildlife encounters frequently go viral online, after all —the best advice wildlife managers offer is painstaking simple: Ignore them and let them be wild.

Colorado Wildlife Officers Kill First Bear Of 2019

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) – Wildlife officials in Colorado have killed a bear near Meeker after previously relocating it from Steamboat Springs. The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers killed the bear Monday after it disturbed a farmer’s beehive.

Officers relocated the 2-year-old cinnamon-colored black bear on April 8 after the animal got into several residential dumpsters downtown.

(credit: Kevin Dietrich)

Officers tranquilized the bear after it approached a day care center.

Steamboat resident Kevin Dietrich captured several photos of the bear.

“Such a great looking bear. Lock up the trash fellow downtown residents,” Dietrich wrote on Facebook.

(credit: Kevin Dietrich)

Steamboat area wildlife manager Kris Middledorf says this is the first bear the agency has killed in the state this year. Middledorf says days like Monday, where wildlife officials have to put down an animal, are “the worst.”

(credit: Matt Helm)

Middledorf urges residents to be vigilant about securing their trash and other wildlife attractants.

Who emits more methane in Colorado: natural gas producers or cows?

Posted: 6:43 PM, Mar 29, 2019
Updated: 6:02 PM, Mar 29, 2019

CU mobile Solar Occultation Flux

BOULDER, Colo. — While lawmakers at the Colorado state capitol debate a bill to change the way oil and gas production is regulated in the state, researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder have come up with a way to better track methane emissions.

Methane is a greenhouse gas that traps heat in the environment and contributes to climate change.

“Methane is kind of complicated because it’s a global problem,” said Rainer Volkamer, an associate professor of chemistry at CU Boulder. “We want to be able to keep track of it and what are the important sources.”

Methane lives in the atmosphere for about ten years, traveling from the North Pole to the South Pole before eventually being destroyed in the tropics.

Colorado has two main sources of methane emissions: natural gas production and livestock.

“Methane is the same whether it’s emitted from oil and gas or whether it’s emitted from a cow.” Volkamer said.

For years, it has been difficult for industries to determine whether livestock or natural gas production emits more methane.

“They need to know what their impact is on the environment,” Volkamer said.

In the past, methane emissions were measured by an airplane.

However, Volkamer and others created the CU mobile Solar Occultation Flux to help measure methane emissions from the ground and determine exactly where they are coming from. It was developed as part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES).

“With our technique, we could show that the majority is produced from oil and gas and that the agricultural sources are a significant minor source for methane in the region,” Volkamer said.

The conclusion came from data Volkamer and study co-author Natalie Kille, a PhD student at CU Boulder, gathered over a five-day period in 2015 and have been working to analyze.

The researchers measured not only methane, but also ethane emissions, which is co-emitted from oil and gas producers. On the livestock side, the box measures ammonia that is co-emitted from the cows. By measuring all three, researchers can determine who is emitting what.

The machine is tiny compared to its predecessors; it’s about the size of a car engine. It’s also a much more cost-effective way to measure methane.

“This instrument is a tenth of the cost of another instrument that fills an entire room and it’s mobile, so it’s cost-effective for that reason,” Volkamer said.

It is also, in principle, able to perform the same functions inside of an airplane if researchers want to use that method.

Beyond that, the technique can determine exactly what methane was created in Colorado and which emissions were created elsewhere to give the state a better idea of its contributions to climate change.

Eventually, this data could help natural gas producers, cattle farmers and state regulators figure out how to mitigate air pollution. The researchers are hoping to build on this data with a long-term study over several seasons to see how methane emissions change over time.

Wildlife officials defend mountain lion management practices

This photo of a mountain lion provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife is not one of the animals involved in last month’s West Glenwood sightings.

In the weeks since local wildlife officials began to receive reports of mountain lions near homes in West Glenwood, threatening dogs and stalking humans, criticism of the way Colorado Parks and Wildlife handled the situation persists.

After numerous reports of mountain lions in and around Glenwood Springs, caught on infrared video and at least one personal encounter, officials trapped and killed five of the big cats in January. That decision has prompted strong reactions from Glenwood Springs Post Independent readers, wildlife advocates and people across the state who felt another solution should have been be exercised.

CPW spokesman Mike Porras maintained that wildlife officials did not make the decision arbitrarily and used their years of knowledge and experience working with wildlife to determine that lethal removal of these animals was the correct solution.

One comment Porras said he’d been hearing from those concerned with the actions is that “the wildlife officials took the easy way out.” He said he felt that was both untrue and hurtful to the wildlife officers who have dedicated their lives to protecting the state’s animals, environment and people.

He said killing an animal is “the hardest decision” a wildlife officer has to make, and argued the easier move would have been to trap the animal, take it somewhere else and simply let it be — perhaps to its ultimate demise, regardless.

CPW has received several comments in reaction to previous stories in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and picked up by other media outlets statewide demanding the mountain lions be relocated instead of being euthanized.

 

Relocating these particular lions, which had shown “no fear to humans,” was not a viable option for wildlife officials, according to Porras.

Porras said that doing so could result in the lions returning to West Glenwood or moving into other human population centers. He added that the displaced lions could disrupt the ecosystem wherever they were moved, especially if there are other established lions nearby.

Last week’s story reporting that five animals had been euthanized received responses from residents in Colorado, California and Washington state, some suggesting that it is the lion’s territory where humans are living. Others offered different solutions for officials.

One example was from Washington, where the state’s department of fish and wildlife adopted a Karelian Bear Dog Program, essentially a hazing technique to try to get the animals to move elsewhere. The primary purpose of the program is to limit the many bear-human conflicts that occur in Washington and reduce the number of bears that have to be lethally removed, according to the state website.

Porras said these types of hazing techniques are used by wildlife officials throughout Colorado, but added that with these particular lions it was not considered an option because there was no guarantee the hazing would result in new learned behavior for the full-sized predators.

He said there was “no guarantee based on one encounter” that the lions would leave for good if hazed, and officials simply were “not willing to take that risk.”

Among the reports wildlife officials received about West Glenwood mountain lion activity last month included multiple attacks on pets, sightings of mountain lions stalking people in the middle of the day and carcasses of recent elk killings left in people’s backyards.

Colorado wildlife officials trap, kill 5 mountain lions

RIFLE, Colo. — Wildlife officials have trapped and killed five mountain lions near a Colorado town after residents reported aggressive behavior by the predators.

The Rifle Citizen Telegram reports Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials trapped and killed the mountain lions last month in the Glenwood Springs area.

Area wildlife manager Perry Will says four of the animals were believed to be a mother and her grown kittens.

Video footage from a west Glenwood Springs residence showed the four mountain lions stalking the neighborhood.

Will says each of the lions killed last month were believed to be at least a year old and over 80 pounds.

Will says euthanizing the cats is often the only option.

He says officials are not actively targeting anymore lions at this time.

Baseball-Size Hail Kills Zoo Animals In Colorado

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hail-zoo-colorado_us_5b69a10ae4b0de86f4a552d3

The massive Colorado Springs hailstorm injured more than a dozen people and damaged hundreds of cars.
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A powerful hailstorm swept through parts of Colorado on Monday, injuring 14 people, killing two zoo animals and damaging hundreds of cars.

The massive storm, which produced baseball-sized hail in some parts, prompted an evacuation at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs as the area was pummeled with chunks of ice.

By the time the storm had passed, the zoo, which remained closed on Tuesday due to the destruction, estimated that nearly 400 cars in its parking lot were severely damaged. Two birds on exhibit died from trauma.

One of two bears (left) is seen attempting to dodge hail as it pounded the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs on Monda

STORYFUL
One of two bears (left) is seen attempting to dodge hail as it pounded the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo in Colorado Springs on Monday.

“One animal was Daisy, a 4-year-old muscovy duck. The other animal was 13-year-old cape vulture, Motswari,” the zoo said in a Facebook post.

Colorado Springs police reported that five people were transported from the zoo to hospitals for injuries. Nine others were treated at the scene and released.

“It was crazy. The zoo, when we came out of there, literally it looked like a tornado came through,” Danielle Fillis, 47, who was visiting the zoo with her husband, told the Colorado Springs Gazette. Their car was totalled, she said, and their legs were slashed by glass broken by the hail.

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“There were trees down, the whole walkway was covered in debris and animals were making a lot of noise,” Fillis added.

Brandon Sneide, who said he was a member of Colorado’s National Guard who had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, said he saw one woman at the zoo covered in blood.

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CSFD PIO@CSFDPIO

an idea of some of damage to vehicles at the zoo today.

The back window of a car that was smashed by hail on Monday in the Broadmoor area of Colorado Springs is seen.

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The back window of a car that was smashed by hail on Monday in the Broadmoor area of Colorado Springs is seen.

“It was traumatic. It sounded like being in a war zone, like being in Iraq. It was scary,” Sneide told the paper.

Hailstorms are not unusual in this part of the country in the summer, according to weather experts.

“Colorado, you get hit all the time with hail, but it was a little bit larger than most hailstorms,” Pamela Evenson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Pueblo, Colorado, told HuffPost on Tuesday. “Colorado has one of the highest hail rates in the country, unfortunately.”

NWS Pueblo

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GOES-16 visible satellite imagery shows the evolution of the severe thunderstorm that produced very large hail across El Paso and Pueblo counties on August 6.

In June, areas in and around Colorado Springs and Fountain were pounded by another hailstorm that caused an estimated $169 million in insured damages, according to Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. 

That storm was reported as the worst overnight storm in El Paso County in more than 20 years.

Sara Pilot, left, looks at the hail damage to her father's car outside of her home in Louisville, Colorado, on June 19.

HELEN H. RICHARDSON VIA GETTY IMAGES
Sara Pilot, left, looks at the hail damage to her father’s car outside of her home in Louisville, Colorado, on June 19.

“A bunch of people had already gotten their homes fixed, got new cars after their cars were totaled and then had the same thing happen again,” Evenson said of those residents. “It’s terrible.”

In late June, areas in and around Boulder saw baseball-sized hail that destroyed cars, rooftops and solar panels.

Heavy thunderstorms and possible severe hail were forecast for the area of Boulder again on Tuesday. Pueblo was also forecast to see thunderstorms and potential flash floods, according to the National Weather Service.