Monday, September 19, 2011

Colorado honing plan to hobble gobblers

Colorado wildlife managers plan to mobilize hunters to thin the thickening flocks of wild "conflict turkeys" that hinder farmers and ranchers. The state's aggressive turkey reintroduction campaign that began in the 1980s apparently has been more than successful, with turkeys present in 53 of 64 counties and a statewide population topping 35,000. Huge flocks of 200 and more turkeys descend on farms and ranches in late winter. They scratch around looking for grain and eat from feed bins meant for cows. They drink farm water, climb onto hay bales, break them apart, and defecate widely. "Originally, I wanted a few of them. But not this," said rancher Kenny Rose, 72, hard-hit on his land north of the Arikaree River on Colorado's northeastern prairie. Some strut onto roads and roam into towns such as Wray, occasionally pecking at children in schoolyards. Yuma County Commissioner Dean Wingfield said local flocks seem to be doubling each year and that, though he's wildlife lover, he supports stepped-up hunting with a focus on decrepit old hens. Colorado Parks and Wildlife commissioners last week directed staff to develop a plan for issuing unlimited over- the-counter hunting licenses, for use with permission of landowners, on the private lands in northeastern and southeastern Colorado where the most conflicts are happening. In addition, U.S. Air Force Academy land managers north of Colorado Springs have reported turkey problems and an interest in hunting. The goal would be to reduce problem populations by 10 percent to 15 percent, state biologist Ed Gorman said...more

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