Eagle open space closes for season today | VailDaily.com

Eagle open space closes for season today

Daily Staff Report
Daily File Photo Seasonal restrictions, which being today on town of Eagle open space are lands, are meant to protect wildlife.

EAGLE – Open space in the Eagle Ranch closes for the winter today and will remain closed until April 15. Human activity is restricted on open space lands bordering Bureau of Land Management property. Activities such as Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, biking and horse-back riding are off limits. The purpose of the restriction is to protect wintering wildlife, and to avoid damage to roads or trails, which are more fragile during wet conditions. Eagle’s open space lands along the southern portions of Eagle Ranch are classified as critical deer and elk winter range. The Dec. 15 – April 15 time period is a critical time for animals that are dealing with the scarcity of food, while surviving the winter elements.

Deer are particularly vulnerable during this time period. At this time of year, deer are in a starvation-diet mode, and struggle to take in enough calories for the amount of energy they must expend in order to survive. Any disturbance or harassment, whether from people walking by or from dogs chasing the animals, hurts the wild animals’ chances for survival. This same time period may see stretches of warm weather and muddy soil conditions. The seasonal use restriction will also help to avoid damage to roads, trails and vegetation.The wildlife mitigation and enhancement plan was proposed by the developers of Eagle Ranch, and approved by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and the town of Eagle.

Current town policy allows the Eagle town manager, after consulting with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, to open the critical wildlife areas earlier, if the areas dry out and the majority of the deer and elk have moved up in elevation. Deer and elk start to move up in elevation as snow melts and the ground dries up, preferring to follow the snow line in order to take advantage of newly emerging plants.Violations can result in fines up to $1,000 and/or jail time not to exceed one year.Vail Colorado

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