Minturn Cemetery closes gates to prevent animals from entering, targets spring for fence fix |

Minturn Cemetery closes gates to prevent animals from entering, targets spring for fence fix

The Minturn Cemetery District has vowed to fix a fence which has created a deadly partition for wildlife in the area. Deer, elk and moose have all been killed on the fence.
John LaConte/Vail Daily

It will be spring before a welding project can blunt the deadly fence points at the Minturn Cemetery, but in the meantime, the gates through which animals are likely entering have been closed.

The Minturn Town Council on Wednesday received an update from John Sheehan, president of the Minturn Cemetery District board of directors, who said he personally shoveled snow from the area in an effort to close those gates following the death of a bull moose on the fence on Jan. 11. One large gate, which can accommodate a vehicle, and another small gate for humans have both been closed, Sheehan said, which should prevent animals from entering the property.

Animals including deer, elk and moose have all died after entering the property and then attempting to escape by jumping the fence. Four deaths have been documented by governmental agencies, but members of the public and local employees have reported anywhere from five to eight animal mortalities caused by the fence.

Sheehan said those animals most likely entered through the small gate. The points on the fence have been deadly for those animals attempting to escape, and Sheehan said the Minturn Cemetery District has a plan to weld a metal bar over the top of the points.

“We’ve already got the ball rolling with two welding fabricators,” Sheehan told the council on Wednesday. “I’d like to get a 6-inch pipe, cut it in half, and just put it over all those points and weld it on both ends and tack weld it in numerous spots.”

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Sheehan said the snow in the area will have to melt away before the welding project can begin, which is probably May at the earliest.

Sheehan said in an effort to allow ADA access through the large gate, the Cemetery District is discussing the installation of a keypad on the gate, as well.

One theory as to why the animals are attempting to exit in haste over the fence assumes that the animals are becoming spooked by dogs in the area. Sheehan said when he was there shoveling snow, and then during a second meeting with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there were “a bunch of dogs running around over there.”

Council member Terry Armistead, who is a member of the Eagle County Community Wildlife Roundtable, said a dog park in Minturn is on the town’s bucket list, and the conflict of dogs and wildlife could be a reason to elevate the priority level of that effort.

Another compounding factor resulting in the Jan. 11 moose death, Sheehan said, is the relatively new proliferation of moose in the area. Colorado Parks and Wildlife began introducing moose in Colorado in 1978.

“Since the transplants, our moose have thrived and expanded their range into good habitats,” Colorado Parks and Wildlife writes on its website. “Colorado’s moose population now approaches 3,000 animals statewide.”

Last ski season, Beaver Creek Resort closed the Royal Elk Glade run due to what they called a “very aggressive moose” in the area.

In the winter of 2020, a moose occupied an area along Interstate 70 in nearby Dowd Junction for more than a month, receiving statewide attention.

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