The following is testimony provided by Gene Byrnes to the Mesa County Commission regarding the need for protecting roadless tracts of wildlife habitat on public lands. Gene joined two other BHA members to present this information on on January 27, 2014. Gene is a retired CPW Wildlife Biologist and avid sportsman.
I worked for the CDOW for 30 years as a conservation officer (game warden), game damage specialist and terrestrial wildlife biologist. I worked all over NW CO from 1972 -2002.
I am an avid hunter and I own and use 2 ATVs and a 4x4 truck.
During my career I trapped, radio-collared and monitored or re-located 100s of deer, elk, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, etc.
Radio tracking revealed that hunting season pressure will force species such as elk to move to refuge areas. These areas are typically private lands or remote and roadless areas on public lands.
I used to advise hunters looking for elk to look at a map of their hunting area to find areas at least 1-mile or more from any road with the larger the roadless area, the better.
Hunting is an essential tool to control ungulate populations in balance with their habitat carrying capacity.
Big game that seek refuge on private lands can preclude an adequate harvest. This is especially true for the female portion of the herd such as cow elk.
Big game animals need low elevation roadless areas. Deer and elk cannot survive in the high elevations, when it is covered with deep snow, during the late fall and winter.
As our human populations grow and expand, public land roadless areas become more important to our wildlife.
Roadless areas might be closed to motorized vehicles but they are open to wildlife such as deer, elk and humans on foot and horseback.
I request the Mesa County Commissioners to encourage the BLM to support an appropriate balance of motorized and non-motorized areas in the new RMP travel management plan.