Colorado Parks and Wildlife has agreed to meet with Pleasant View landowners regarding wildlife-damaged fence issues and other concerns.
The situation came to the forefront after landowner Debbie Boyd reported to the Montezuma County commissioners about aerial surveys of elk herds. Boyd relayed an experience in the fall when she felt threatened by an elk herd being pushed around on her land by a CPW-contracted helicopter conducting a population survey.
“I don’t want to get trampled on my own property,” she said. “I’d prefer they count the animals from the road using binoculars.”
Boyd said fences were damage by the elk during the incident, and she is not satisfied with the pace of repair by CPW.
At a meeting Monday, state wildlife manager Matt Thorpe promised to meet with Boyd and Pleasant View residents. He explained that aerial wildlife counts happen annually, and there are protocols to limit impacts to wildlife, private property and landowners.
He said during the flyovers tactics are used to draw the elk out into the open so the herd can be accurately surveyed. Sometimes during the process, the herd flees and damages fencing, which was the case with the Boyd incident. Thorpe said CPW works with landowners to cover costs and labor of repairing fences.
“We want to be good neighbors and will make it right on your fence damage. We will work to resolve these issues,” he said. Some of the fence repairs have been made.
Property owners can file claims for wildlife-caused property damage under the state’s Habitat Partnership Program, including for crops, livestock and fences. However, on claims for fences that are too old, state statutes say they have no value for compensation, and that frustrates landowners, Thorpe said.
During the Monday meeting, Raymond Boyd also took issue with state wildlife officers entering private land without permission to check hunting and fishing licenses. He said that it contradicts private property laws in the state constitution.
Thorpe said that for practical reasons, state statute authorizes wildlife officers to enter private property for the purpose of checking licenses of people who are obviously hunting or fishing. The officer should be in uniform when checking licenses, he said.