Letter: Brush Creek is critical habitat | VailDaily.com

Letter: Brush Creek is critical habitat

Rosie Shearwood
Vail, CO Colorado

I read the article about the Division of Wildlife “feeding deer and baiting elk” with a great deal of interest. The subject of wildlife on Brush Creek has been my focus for nearly a year as the Eagle Valley Habitat for Wildlife has been working with Wildlife Specialties, the firm of a reputed wildlife biologist, toward a documentation of current wildlife trends and how they relate to future development on Brush Creek. Hopefully our very recently completed report will assist in planning for the future and dealing with the dilemma of elk wintering here in unprecedented numbers, and land pressed to be developed as never before.

The very unfortunate circumstances of a severe winter, following heavy cattle grazing of land where last winter deer and elk found rich and abundant forage, has proven to create a life-threatening situation. Hoping to return to good grazing, both species found little to eat, then even that was covered with record-challenging snow. By way of 1,000 head of cattle and Mother Nature, they found themselves in a critical situation.

While our agricultural privately owned valleys have never been classified by the Division of Wildlife as either “critical” or “non-critical” as a matter of policy, it is all too evident that in this real winter, Brush Creek has become critical in more ways than one. It’s where they have come to try and survive, and it’s where we can help them in relative safety and effectiveness away from pressing civilization.

We can get caught up in semantics and shy away from the word “critical,” but I say it’s at least very, very important habitat, especially if you’re a deer or elk searching for food. If we intend to keep our four-legged neighbors as valued assets to our community, we must pay close attention to how we manage their habitat as we strive to make wise plans for future development.

You will soon hear more from the Eagle Valley Habitat for Wildlife on the subject.

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