I have lived in the Craig area for approximately 13 years and my wife is a native of the area.
We have a modest 220 acre ranch in Lay, and until last fall had a small sheep/lamb operation. The operation basically created enough income for us to purchase hay for the following winter. The hay not only fed the sheep, but also the horses.
Since we do not grow our own hay, and the price of hay was costly this year, we decided to sell all our sheep. We do still have our horses and did purchase enough hay to get six horses through the winter.
Now the elk population has made it very clear to us that they are hungry and are helping themselves to the hay, after chasing the horses away, in the horses' feeder. It is not a secret that elk have a huge appetite and in large groups, they can make short work of a round bale or two.
I do my best to keep them away by shooting 12-gauge birdshot in the air several times a night but to no avail. They return soon after I return home.
I know I am not the only one with this problem, but all I am asking is for a little help from the Division of Wildlife.
We "reap" no benefits from the elk during the hunting season, as large ranches do from outfitters, ranching for wildlife or trespass fees.
I find it rather ironic and annoying that the ranches that do benefit from hunting season try to keep the elk on their property during hunting season and chase them off in the winter.
My question to you, DOW, is why can't these ranchers, along with the DOW feed these animals during harsh winters like this one? I am an avid outdoorsman and I do feel sorry for the elk herds, but I am not in a position to be supply feed for them. I don't know DOW's budget, and I don't care to, but I would think there would be a "slush" fund or something in place to fund a feeding operation for harsh winters.
God only knows Colorado license fees are not among the cheapest in the country, especially for non-resident sportsmen.
The elk, deer and antelope population have a lot to help the community, and a lot of its residents with revenues. I believe that is "payback" time.
I really do not want to hear about hot the elk do not know where to migrate due to the fact that the last few years have been mild winters. Let's face it. Of course they do not know where to migrate because the majority of their routes do not exist anymore due to a thing called civilization.
In closing, this is my plea for some assistance from the Colorado DOW. Craig has suddenly the past year been called the Elk Capital of the World, and we need to start acting like it or remove the signs.
Please assist us, but others in the same dilemma who are small property owners having the same problem.
Please feed the animals.
Thank you for your consideration.
Brian and Irene Kitzman