Great news from Colorado this week, for both the state of parks and the people who love to enjoy the environment responsibly. The US District Court of Colorado ruled that the US Fish and Wildlife Service violated the law when it illegally helped pay for a program to kill mountain lions and black bears “without properly analyzing the risks to their populations and their habitats.”
It all started with concerns raised about declining populations of mule deer, whose populations are mostly found in western regions of the United States. The mule deer has a deep connection to Colorado’s hunting industry, which is purportedly in the range of $1 billion annually. US Fish and Wildlife are alleged to have funded Colorado Parks and Wildlife with a plan to kill hundreds of mountain lions and dozens of black bears to address mule deer numbers, but the court deemed that it failed to analyze the risks this action would pose to the environment and their habitats.
It’s faulty logic, through and through. The ecosystems in which these animals live do not hover simplistically on the number of predator animals versus the number of prey therein. Additionally, other aspects of the presence of mountain lions and black bears on their environment help sustain it, including plant life and providing for scavenging animals.
The “killing plans” were approved by Colorado Parks and Wildlife five years ago and funded in 2017, even with public opposition and objections raised by conservationists, biologists, and others. Ultimately, conservation groups united to sue US Fish and Wildlife, specifically pointing to the lack of investigation and environmental analysis on their part prior to approving and funding the plan.
For now, at least, the mountain lions and black bears can sleep soundly in Colorado.