Letter: Let professionals decide what’s best for sheep
In response to the Vail Daily’s recent article about bighorn sheep hunting, I find it ironic that Vail Town Council has the “expertise” to decide the entire fate of a bighorn sheep herd with pending developments, yet throws up arms about ram hunting. Is it really the place of town council members to speak on wildlife, wildlife-related issues or hunting? It is not their role, responsibility, or area of expertise. It is the responsibility of the professionals at Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Hunting is conservation. The North American Model of Wildlife Conservation is a scientific and biological process used to promote, protect, and enhance wildlife that uses hunting as a management tool. If Colorado Parks and Wildlife has established a quota for three rams, we should all be elated and celebrate that our sheep herd is doing so well. The harvest of three mature rams will have zero effect on the gore herd. None whatsoever. Author Jack O’Connor said it best in “The Art of Sheep Hunting” when he wrote: “Trophy hunting never hurts sheep herds because the rams with big heads are all the old ones within a year or two of death. … Hunters could take every ram over nine (years old) on every sheep mountain in North America without jeopardizing the herds at all.”
Wildlife and our natural resources are the greatest legacy those of us who call the Vail Valley home can leave our children. They are the indispensable totems of what wildness still exists in this valley today. Wildlife relies solely on hunters and hunters’ dollars to exist. Revenue from hunting and fishing license sales, the Pittman-Robertson Act, and organizations like Wild Sheep Foundation raise millions of dollars that all go to wildlife conservation. Skiing, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, contribute none to wildlife in the Vail Valley.
Vail Daily, it would be great to see you interview folks who actually know something about wildlife. Folks like retired CPW officer Bill Andree that know the Gore sheep better than anyone. And if the Vail Town Council really is concerned about our wildlife, then its members should collaborate and work with CPW to educate themselves and our community and not tear down the greatest tool wildlife has going for it — hunting.