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Long-term efforts saved Colorado wildlife

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Bowhunter. Photo by © Vic Schendel/CPW.

In Colorado 150 years ago wildlife faced a dire future.

To provide food for miners and settlers streaming west during the gold rush and land rush of the mid- and late-1800s, market hunters slaughtered deer, elk, bear, buffalo, bighorns, pronghorn and any type of bird that could provide meat. Fish fared no better as nets and even dynamite were set in rivers and streams. Polluted water flowing from mining operations also devastated hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. Read more

What to See Now: Lark Buntings

YOTB_stacked_KIn celebration of the Year of the Bird, we will highlight some of the birds and their behaviors that you can observe at certain times throughout the year.

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Male lark bunting. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW

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The author’s dog, Jake.

This post is brought to you by the Fuzz Brothers, my dogs Digger and Jake. Digger, a large Airedale, and Jake, a surprisingly tough mix of every little foofy dog I always said I hated, are not fans of fireworks. Not one bit. As the days neared the Fourth of July, their anxiety levels steadily rose. Despite the fireworks ban and extremely dry conditions, my neighborhood sounded like the battle scenes from an Avengers’ movie played in Dolby Surround Sound. So, to alieveate the poor dogs’ stress on the loudest day of the year, I decided to take them on an Independence Day drive to one of the quietest places in Colorado — the Pawnee National Grasslands. My other Airedale, Mary, would historically go on trips like these, but she is now old and mostly deaf, and so the fireworks don’t even register. Anyway, she would rather nap. Read more

Video: ‘Livin’ the Wildlife’ Red Fox

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Sibling rivalry at its best: Fox kits pose for a photo at a den near Evergreen, CO. Photo by Jerry Neal/CPW.

The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest and most common fox species in Colorado.

Known for its cunning nature and intelligence, the “sly” fox is a skilled predator and scavenger. The fox is also well adapted to live among humans, and it often dens and hunts in urban/suburban areas. Read more

Searching for Gunnison-sage Grouse

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Nate Seward, CPW Wildlife Biologist, searches for Gunnison sage-grouse. All photo by © Joe Lewandowski/CPW


YOTB_stacked_KBy 6 a.m. most mornings from mid-March through mid-May, Nate Seward is sitting on cold ground – or snow, or mud ‒ peering through a spotting scope watching Gunnison sage-grouse perform their annual dance. But he’s not just bird-watching for fun. He’s counting the birds at areas known as “leks”, where males gather to establish their dominance and where females gather to choose a mate. The daily work by Seward is an essential component in the long-term conservation effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to sustain this iconic species of the American West. Read more

Livin’ the Wildlife: Rocky Mountain Elk

 

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An elk bugles during the rut. Video capture by Jerry Neal/CPW.

Living in Colorado, it’s easy to take for granted our enormous elk herds. After all, Colorado is home to nearly 280,000 animals — the largest elk population in North America. But did you know that elk were near extinction at the turn of the century? In fact, fewer than 1,000 elk remained in Colorado during the early 1900s. The elk’s dramatic demise was attributed to unregulated market-hunting.

A century ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife imported 350 elk from Wyoming to re-establish dwindling herds. The elk were transported and released in Idaho Springs and in the Greenhorn Mountains in Pueblo County. Sportsmen also called for regulated hunting seasons to protect and manage elk populations. From these meager transplants, and through decades of conservation programs, elk populations have soared to the abundant herds for which Colorado is now famous. Read more

Walleye Wisdom

 

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The biggest walleye of the day. All photos by © Wayne D. Lewis/CPW

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The author with his first-ever walleye.

With a big smile on my face, I posed with my first-ever walleye. For our group, it was the first fish of the day, and the first walleye I had ever seen in person — all pointy fins, sharp teeth and cataract eyes. If Disney made a movie about freshwater fish, a walleye would be cast as the quirky sidekick to the main villian (probably a pike). I was proud; if it had been a trout, it would have been a keeper. However, since it was just under 18 inches long, we had to release it. But, as it slipped back into the waters of Chatfield Reserevoir, I began to calculate how much per inch that walleye had cost. Read more

Shedding Velvet

COVER-buck-shedding-velvet-Wayne-D-Lewis-DSC_0128This time of year, most outdoors-obsessed Coloradans grab their cell phones, Nikons, Canons — anything with a lens — and head to the mountains in search of Instagram-worthy photos of changing aspens. Local TV forecasters show detailed maps of peak times in peak areas, guiding caravans of leaf lovers into the hills. For them, the official signs of the change of season are mountains painted yellow and gold.

I, however, wanted to chronicle a different sign of the season — one more interesting to orange-clad hunters: that of mule deer bucks shedding their antler velvet. During the first few weeks of September, a few times a week, I would leave work and head to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge in northeast Denver hoping to find bucks lit by the golden-hour light. At the Arsenal, they have decent populations of both mule and white-tailed deer, but by the time I started this project, the whitetail bucks had all shed their velvet.

Andy Holland, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife big game manager, thinks that the peak date for mule deer shedding is Sept. 15. “But it varies,” he says. Read more

Video: Colorado Big-Game Hunting Forecast

As summer fades and temperatures cool, Colorado’s big-game seasons are about to heat up. And, if you plan to hunt this fall you have plenty of reasons to look forward to opening day. Wildlife biologists, in general, predict good hunting across most of the state.

This video provides statewide and regional forecasts for the 2017 big-game seasons:
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Blog post and video by Jerry Neal. Neal is a videographer and information specialist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

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