The Colorado chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has an extraordinary group of hunter-angler-conservationists on its rapidly growing Chapter Leadership Team (CLT), including Southwest Colorado Regional Director, Dan Parkinson.
During the summer of 2017, Dan (a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine) initiated a Volunteer Signage and Bighorn Observation Program on the Weminuche Wilderness landscape in southwest Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. Weminuche bighorn sheep are listed by the U.S. Forest Service as a sensitive species, meaning there is concern for their long-term viability. Domestic sheep carry strains of pneumonia that are devastating for bighorn sheep. Terribly, a single outbreak can kill most bighorn sheep in a herd.
The bottom line is that when domestic sheep and bighorn sheep come in contact, the bighorns lose. “Our goal in launching this Bighorn Observation program was to raise awareness of the historic and actual presence of bighorns in the Weminuche,” Dan said. “We wanted to get BHA members and other interested individuals out on the landscape looking for bighorns that may be wandering in or near active domestic sheep grazing allotments.”
“In our first-year effort we found significant interest by sportsmen and other wildlands users in the long-term viability of bighorns in the Weminuche,” Dan added. “However, most of the sportsmen and volunteers we contacted had only limited understanding of the threat that bighorns face from exposure to domestic sheep grazing on their historic home range. Public education is critical moving forward.”
Dan is also a trad bow elk hunter and wilderness advocate, because he knows—like David Petersen, Colorado BHA founder and a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot, said—“The three-part formula for assuring a rich elk hunting future … could hardly be simpler … Those three essential elements are: habitat, habitat, and habitat.”
Both Dan and David know from firsthand experience that wilderness is the gold standard for wildlife habitat and backcountry hunting and angling. In other words, it’s key to bigger bucks, bigger bulls and better fishing! Dan explained this important habitat requirement to those attending a Colorado Wilderness Conference (hosted by the Colorado Mountain Club) in Buena Vista, Colo. (May 10-11, 2019).
He put together two detailed presentations for the conference regarding using citizen science to protect/promote bighorn sheep in Colorado and the importance of wilderness from a sportsmen’s perspective. Colorado BHA has received positive feedback from multiple attendees on Dan’s presentations (see two examples below), and as Dan said: “I am glad to talk with folks about the presentations and hope that they can be used by members.”
- “I so enjoyed your talk at the Wilderness meeting this past weekend, and chatting with you briefly afterwards. I’ve memorized the 5 stages of a hunter’s evolution, and think them accurate and useful … BHA’s commitments to public lands, fair chase, and keeping motorized vehicles where they belong are an inspiration to me … I wish you all continued success, like the recent Land and Water Act passage.” –Bill Betz, Friends ofEagles Nest Wilderness Chair
- “Just wanted to give a quick shout out to Dan Parkinson … for his presentations at the CMC wilderness conference … Dan did a great job in both of the presentations and … representing CO BHA and BHA in general. His presentations were greatly appreciated by a group of attendees, who were in large part a group of folks who don’t hunt or maybe even fish … Great job Dan!” –Doug Ouren, BHA Life Member
Dan is happy to provide copies of these PowerPoint presentations to anyone who might be interested (contact him at [email protected]). Just ask him for his “Using Citizen Science to Protect and Promote Bighorn Sheep in SW CO” & “A Sportsmen's Perspective: The Importance of Wilderness” presentations.
“Dan is leading the way in Southwest Colorado for BHA members and many others looking to protect both bighorns and wilderness in the high and wild San Juan Mountains,” said Colorado BHA co-chair, David Lien(a former Air Force officer). “We need many more like him.”
For additional information see:
-“Colorado Backcountry Hunters & Anglers Volunteer Signage and Bighorn Observation Program.”Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 1/10/18.https://www.backcountryhunters.org/colorado_backcountry_hunters_anglers_volunteer_signage_and_bighorn_observation_program
-“Bighorn Observation Volunteers Needed Colorado BHA.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 6/19/18.https://www.backcountryhunters.org/bighorn_observation_volunteers_needed_colorado_bha
-Paige Blankenbuehler. “Agricultural interests steer Colorado’s wildlife management: Sheep grazing in the state’s largest wilderness area could endanger a dwindling bighorn sheep herd.” High Country News: 8/31/18.https://www.hcn.org/issues/50.15/wildlife-agricultural-interests-steer-colorados-wildlife-management
-Mountain Studies Institute (MSI). “San Juan Mountains Colorado Bighorn Sheep Monitoring.” MSI:http://www.mountainstudies.org/bighorn/
Founded by Mike Beagle, a former U.S. Army field artillery officer, and formed around an Oregon campfire, in 2004, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is the sportsmen’s voice for our nation’s wild public lands, waters and wildlife. With over 37,000 members spread out across all 50 states and 13 Canadian provinces and territories—including chapters in 44 states, two Canadian provinces and one territory, and Washington, D.C.—BHAbrings an authentic, informed, boots-on-the-ground voice to the conservation of public lands. Since the Colorado BHA chapter was founded by David Petersen (a former U.S. Marine Corps helicopter pilot) in 2005 (the first official BHA chapter), they’ve grown their boots-on-the-ground presence to over 2,700 dedicated hunters and anglers.
 David Petersen. “The Future of Elk Hunting.” Traditional Bowhunter magazine: December/January 2013, p. 69.
 Katie McKalip. “BHA Membership Is Young, Active, Nonpartisan, Demographic Survey Shows: Two-thirds of members are 45 or younger, identify as Republican or Independent.” Backcountry Hunters & Anglers: 8/7/18.