We can be thankful the Animas Valley north of Durango does not have conflict as in Gaza; but there is a rancher and his neighbor who need to talk to each other to help keep it that way (Letters, Herald, Jan. 18.) The rancher shouldn't disturb his neighbor's sleep by shooting his gun at 2 a.m., and the disturbed neighbor needs to understand property rights and big-game management.
I have been ranching in the Animas Valley since 1985 and I can tell you all about how big-game management increases costs to agricultural producers. For almost as long, I have been a volunteer on the San Juan Basin Habitat Partnership Program Committee. HPP is funded from 5 percent of the fees collected from hunting licenses sold in our basin. We work to resolve private land-owner conflicts with deer and elk, and we fund projects that improve big-game habitat on public lands.
Please know that the Colorado Division of Wildlife is funded through hunting and fishing license fees (71 percent), Colorado's share of federal taxes on hunting and fishing equipment (14 percent), Great Outdoors Colorado lottery-funded grants (10 percent) and interest on fund balances (3 percent.) It is false to say taxpayer dollars are used for explosive devices to disturb elk.
I am glad there are explosive devices, distribution hunts and other methods available to help keep big game from a pattern of eating my livestock's feed or from settling in on my fertilized hay crop or newly-seeded field. I am glad there are materials available for fence repairs and to make elk-friendly fence modifications. The animal-rights progressives in our society need to think about how much skin they have in the game. If you are a landowner feeling badly bruised from deer and elk, I can tell you there is some first aid available for you.
Sandy Young, Durango