AR-News: (US-CO) River otters to receive less protection in state
wolfcrest at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 11 02:52:46 EDT 2003
River otters to receive less protection in state
By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News
September 10, 2003
LAMAR - The Colorado Wildlife Commission voted unanimously on Tuesday to
"downlist" the status of the river otter from "endangered" to "threatened."
"Endangered" means the otter's prospect for survival was in jeopardy, and
"threatened" means it is no longer an animal in danger of extinction but
does warrant watching to make sure its numbers do not decline.
The otters will receive less protection as a threatened species.
Larry Nelson, endangered species coordinator for the Colorado Division of
Wildlife, said there are sufficient numbers of otters in four major Western
Slope river drainages - the Colorado, Gunnison, Green and Dolores - to
support the change.
"And that doesn't account for otters that were released in the early 1980s
and now are in Rocky Mountain National Park," he said.
"Our counts show one otter per 3.9 kilometers on those rivers, which would
mean 150 to 160 for the state," he said.
The downlisting was criticized by Jo Thompson, who received a master's
degree from the University of Colorado in animal behavior, a Ph.D. from
Oxford University and has spent more than a decade doing wildlife research
in the Congo as well as a number of Western states.
"The data on the otter is unsupported by empirical data and there is not
enough substance to justify or base a sound, rigorous, scientific decision,"
In other action, the commissioners also voted to consider at a later date
whether they will make it illegal to feed coyotes and foxes as a way of
attracting them into nonagricultural areas.
Mike King, the division's regulations manager, said a person was bitten in
Greenwood Village last year by a coyote that got too used to people who were
He said wildlife officials would also like to ban the use of salt blocks in
nonagricultural areas to attract deer and elk.
"Our big concern there is in northeastern Colorado where some bed and
breakfast draws deer and elk in for their guests to watch, because we are
trying to keep those animals separated so they don't spread chronic wasting
In fact, if one person is unkind to an animal it is considered to be
cruelty, but where a lot of people are unkind to animals, especially in the
name of commerce, the cruelty is condoned and, once large sums of money are
at stake, will be defended to the last by otherwise intelligent people.
-- Ruth Harrison, author of Animal Machines
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