U.S. agency illegally paid for predator hunting in Colorado

Denver (AP) —The US Department of Fish and Wildlife pays for a Colorado program that kills dozens of mountain lions and black bears in an experiment to determine if predators are partially responsible for reducing mule deer populations. Was illegally supported by a federal judge.

Marcia Krieger, Secretary of the US District Court in Denver found Fish and Wildlife could not have done the necessary analysis of the program’s environmental impact, so it could have been able to expedite federal funding for most of the $ 4 million program.

Tuesday’s decision will suspend funding for the official killings of puma and black bears in the upper Arkansas river basin in southern Colorado. The second Colorado Parks and Wildlife Program at Piceance Basin in northwestern Colorado has been completed.

Concerned about a decline in the number of mule deer that will help maintain Colorado’s approximately $ 1 billion hunting industry, Colorado Parks and Wildlife announced in 2016 that limited killings of mountain lions and black bears deer. Decided to conduct an experiment to see if it affects.

The plan tests whether removing deer-predatory lions and bears will increase deer survival. Fifteen lions and 25 black bears are killed each year in one area near the rifle in northwestern Colorado for three years. In southern Colorado, a nine-year study could kill about 60 lions in three years.

To help fund the experiment, Fish and Wildlife has not specifically worked on Colorado’s plans, according to lawsuits filed by the Biodiversity Center, WildEarth Guardians, and the Humane Society of the United States. It relied heavily on environmental analysis. America. That analysis was needed to fund the federal government.

The lawsuit also argued that the deer population decline was due to human development, including oil and gas leasing, and killing those predators would damage the local ecosystem. Colorado Parks and Wildlife states that the study is ongoing and other factors may include changes in maternal and fetal status and feed availability.

Andrea Zaccardi, senior lawyer at the Center for Biodiversity, said: “Mule deer mainly suffer from habitat loss.”

The actual number of predators killed under the program was not immediately known. Colorado’s Natural Resources Department, which oversees Colorado Parks and Wildlife, has introduced a question to Fish and Wildlife for comment. The agency did not immediately respond to phone messages and emails asking for comments on Tuesday’s ruling.

Krieger has ordered the Department of Fish and Wildlife to carry out a more complete and focused environmental analysis of the program.

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