A new wildlife
It was a
relief to learn that residents of the Golden Eagle subdivision at the
mouth of Greenhorn Gulch are trying to figure out how to co-exist with
the elk that are abundant there.
strategy of trying to divert the elk to a feeding station in a small
canyon above the subdivision is a far cry from last winter’s attempt
to drive the elk out of the subdivision with snowmobiles. It’s a far
more positive and humane approach to a problem that exists in many forms
throughout the valley.
the new strategy may be complicated by the fact that the subdivision
lies between the elk and sources of water in the Big Wood River and
subdivision’s problems with wildlife are acute, but not uncommon.
located at the mouth of a canyon, which was historically used as a
wintering ground by a large elk herd. The conflict between the herd and
the subdivision was predictable, but no preventive measures were put
into place nor required.
plants used for landscaping in the subdivision are irresistible to
hungry elk, not to mention attractive as shelter.
year, a few elk were stranded between the busy State Highway 75 and the
subdivision from which they’d been driven. They were a pitiful sight
for commuters, an object lesson in the consequences of growth.
strategy may reduce conflicts between homeowners and elk, but conflicts
will not disappear. As the valley grows, residents will be faced again
and again with the question of whether they can co-exist with wildlife.
the answer is: not very well. The question that is begging for an answer
is whether people can co-exist with any wildlife at all.
of conflicts are everywhere. Decorative subdivision and golf course
ponds attract flocks of geese that annoy people and surround ponds with
greasy calling cards.
are attracted to running streams to which they apply their incredible
engineering skills. Their dams slow fast water and create great wetland
habitat for wildlife. Unfortunately, the aspens beloved for landscapes
are the beavers’ material of choice. The dams can also create
conflicts over downstream water rights.
valley has a choice. It can become a place where people choose to be
good neighbors to wildlife and to share the valley’s rich environment.
Developers, planners, elected officials, and wildlife experts, working
together can ensure wildlife survival, if not abundance.
valley can become a hollow landscape with canyons devoid of large and
small mammals, birds and fish.
the first option best. Golden Eagle’s strategy is a good first step
toward the tolerance and goodwill necessary for healthy wildlife in a