Struggling wildlife in frigid winter conditions is a sight that tugs at ones heart strings, but Kevin Madler, wildlife officer with the Division of Parks and Wildlife (DPW), insists “we need to refrain from feeding wildlife anytime and that includes the depth of winter.” As the Front Range communities encroach into natural wildlife habitat we see more bear, deer, and coyotes, some elk, even mountain lions in our backyards and open space lands. Madler reminds the public that “it became illegal to feed big game animals as result of state law passed by the State’s General Assembly in 1992.”
When wildlife is fed they are encouraged to congregate into smaller, confined areas and that close assemblage of wildlife can result in spread of disease among the herd and it encourages more threatening predator game such as mountain lions and bobcats to gather near such herds. In turn, Madler insists “domestic pets are threatened by the predators, normal migration patterns of deer and elk can be altered risking added threats and risk of limited natural food sources for big game.” Illegal feeding of wild game can reported to Operation Game Thief at 877-265-6648.
Two weeks remain in the Cabela’s Colorado Classic Ice Fishing Tournament, held in cooperation with the DPW. Anglers can fish Eleven Mile Reservoir in Eleven Mile State Park March 8. An entry fee of $80 is required for a two-person team with nearly $2,000 in prize money in the offing. Call 719-748-0317 to enter and get additional information. DPW officers encourage anglers fishing the mountain lakes be mindful of safety by fishing in teams, drilling test holes to know ice thickness, wear life jackets, carry ice picks, 50 feet of rope and a cell phone.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission added a significant stretch of prime trout waters to the Gold Medal Trout Waters (GMTW) program. 102 miles of the upper Arkansas River system from the confluence with Lake Fork near Leadville, downstream to Parkdale at the Highway 50 Bridge above the Royal Gorge is now GMTW. The added mileage has resulted in a 50-percent increase in statewide GMTW, which now totals 322 total miles. This stretch of the Arkansas will be the longest reach in the Colorado GMTW program.
GMTW criteria requires a body of water support trout stocking of 60 pounds per acre, support a minimum average of 12 quality 14 inches trout per acre. Over 65 percent of this stretch of the Arkansas River is open to public access due to federal and state-owned lands and numerous cooperative lease agreements with private landowners. The GMTW program initiate in 1999 has expanded as a result of effective and significant river and stream habitat transformation, water quality improvements, controls of heavy metal mining pollution, together extending the average life of trout from three to then years and providing sustainable food sources and spawning and quiet waters for the growing numbers of wild and stocked trout. Ask the nearly 100,000 who fish this popular trout waters each year.
“This draw is why the Arkansas ranked as the favorite fishing destination for residents of Colorado in the 2012 angler survey,” according to Greg Policky, CPW Aquatic Biologist.