By Andrea Flores
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4)– The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a controversial plan to euthanize black bears and mountain lions. Officials say the animals are threatening the mule deer population.
The Piceance Basin and Upper Arkansas River Predator Control Plans were unanimously approved at a meeting in Fort Collins Wednesday afternoon.
The two predator control plans would allow Parks and Wildlife to kill at least 15 mountain lions and 25 black bears over the next several years.
The agency hopes the plans will improve the mule deer population. They believe deer and fawn are being preyed on by lions and bears in those areas.
“We have pretty compelling evidence that lions and bears are eating those newborn fawns before they get old enough to avoid predation,” said Jeff Ver Steeg, an Assistant Director of Policy and Planning with CPW. “We’re trying to test something that has not been studied in literature.”
While Parks and Wildlife officials say one percent of lions, and two percent of bears would be affected. Opponents are calling the study “reckless” and inhumane.
“Coloradans don’t support these studies,” said Humane Society Protection Manger Haley Stewart. “Thousands of people have spoken up against them, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife should not be killing these animals.”
But with unanimous support from the commission, and support from the community, Parks and Wildlife says they’re doing their best to address a rapidly changing environment.
“We have more people, we have more roads, we have more homes, and more energy development,” Ver Steeg said. “These systems are not natural, not functioning like they did 200 years ago.”
The commission meets regularly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation.
The next commission meeting will take place in Denver on Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, 2017.
LINK: CPW Mule Deer Strategy