Colorado's Director of Parks and Wildlife responds to criticisms of mt lion plan. I also felt that the previous article was slanted and criticizes the CPW with out merit. Thanks Director Prenzlow for the clarification and standing up for the science based management of mt lions in Colorado. See his response below.
Since 1897 when the first Colorado Game, Fish and Forestry Department was established, now under the flag of Colorado Parks and Wildlife, our agency has accepted the challenge of preserving wildlife alongside a growing human population.
Never in our 123-year history has it been more difficult. Colorado’s exploding population — driven in part by the desire to live among our growing population of wild creatures — is putting intense pressure on our wildlife populations and bringing them into daily, and sometimes deadly, conflict with humans.
We gladly accept the challenge of preserving wildlife while protecting human health and safety, but sometimes we are unfairly criticized for our policies by groups or individuals who mischaracterize our work. When this happens, we feel the need to speak up and set the record straight before such sensationalism becomes dogma to some.
That’s what happened in The Denver Post in the story “Colorado mountain lions hit with new hunting plan as people spread.” The piece misleads readers with the suggestion that mountain lions are in jeopardy in Colorado due to a new CPW management plan.
This just isn’t true. You can trace CPW’s commitment to preserve mountain lions back to 1965 when we enacted protections from poisons and bounties. Those actions — and decades of other reforms and research — have led to the robust lion populations we enjoy today.
Our biologists have worked for decades studying and maintaining lion populations to make sure this animal remains on the landscape forever. We employ cutting-edge science to manage lions. But it’s a balancing act. And when humans are at risk due to a locally isolated lion population, sometimes we have to employ more strict and lethal techniques.
The piece chose to largely ignore volumes of research data we provided and, instead, embraced the opinions of anti-hunting organizations and environmental groups who attack a small aspect of our plans to manage lions in four “game management units” near Glenwood Springs.
It was never mentioned to readers that our harshest critics, who philosophically oppose hunting, support the broader framework of that management plan. They “support CPW’s effort to improve management of mountain lions through this plan, such as establishing density and population estimates for mountain lions, as well as implementing mortality thresholds, including a 17% human-caused mortality limit and 22% adult female mortality limit.”
The proposed Lion Plan provides a science-based framework for maintaining lion numbers stable across the entire West Slope. The plan lays out rigorous safeguards on harvest levels, enacts annual evaluations of independent metrics to make sure mortality levels are acceptable, has a new commitment to measuring lion population sizes in survey areas, and includes flexibility with a series of management tools around Glenwood Springs to address human-lion conflicts.
The article was a disservice to Post readers who expect a more thorough and balanced vetting of important and complex issues such as how best to preserve mountain lions in Glenwood Springs, and Colorado as a whole, while protecting people living here.
Dan Prenzlow is the director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife.