Predators keep their pelts



In Colorado, three species of fur-bearing predators will hold onto their skins for a little longer. In its July meeting, the Colorado Wildlife Commission decided to not allow live-cage trapping and shooting seasons for the swift fox, pine marten and opossum.

Commission chair Rick Enstrom, who cast the tie vote which killed the Colorado Trappers Association proposal, says he is going to lose a lot of friends over his "no" vote. "I hate to waylay a way of life and a tradition that this state and country were built on," says Enstrom, but he explains that the potential for political backlash made a "yes" vote "not worth the effort for 500 swift fox and a few marten."

Calling the decision "absolutely a victory," Wendy Keefover-Ring, spokesperson for the Boulder-based Sinapu, agrees that the commission was likely acting to prevent another citizen-sponsored ballot initiative, like the one in 1996 that made the use of lethal trapping devices illegal except in limited and highly regulated circumstances (HCN, 7/22/96: Trapping initiative may snare Colorado ranchers). Groups like Sinapu and the Sierra Club protested the lack of data on pine marten and opossum populations, and questioned why the swift fox, only recently removed from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's endangered species candidate list, was included in the proposed harvest.

Marv Miller, a trapper for 60 years, and vice president of the Colorado Trappers Association, says he is "disgusted" with the commission's "100 percent political" decision. Miller says predator control is necessary to regulate populations and boost numbers of game birds. His group will continue to work toward relaxing restrictions on recreational trapping.