Snow levels on the Western Slope are reaching historic proportions, affecting the winter range for deer and elk. Not only has Gov. Bill Ritter backed an emergency $1.7 million big game feeding program, he’s coming out to Gunnison on Saturday to help take care of the animals personally.With mortality rates predicted at over 30 percent for adults and higher rates for last spring’s fawn crop, volunteers and the Colorado Division of Wildlife staff have engaged in an emergency winter feeding program for deer and elk herds in the Gunnison valley. Other locations in the Northwest are on standby alert.
Gov. Ritter will join wildlife officials and locals by snowmobile and airplane to participate in the feeding program during his visit to Gunnison. The help will be needed — more snow is predicted for the weekend.
Ritter’s Western Slope itinerary for Saturday:
8:30 a.m. Ritter will meet with Division of Wildlife staff and community volunteers.
9 to 10:30 a.m. Ritter will head out with DOW staff on Sno-Cats to several feeding sites. He also will participate in an aerial feed drop and tour the Gunnison Basin.
1:20 to 2:30 p.m. Ritter will meet with local elected officials at the Gunnison County Courthouse.
3 to 4 p.m. Gov. Ritter, state Rep. Kathleen Curry and state Sen. Gail Schwartz will host a town hall-style gathering with constituents at the Western Heritage Center.
Photo of Mamms Peak by Leslie Robinson
UPDATED INFORMATION: Ritter Offers a Helping-Hand to Wildlife Rescue
From the Governor’s Office:
Gov. Ritter visited Gunnison this morning to thank volunteers and Division of Wildlife employees for carrying out an emergency winter feeding program for mule deer, antelope and other big game in the Gunnison Basin. Gov. Ritter joined DOW workers at one of 95 feeding sites.
“The DOW employees and volunteers deserve immense credit for all they are doing to prevent significant losses of deer and antelope,” Gov. Ritter said. “They are working seven days a week to protect these herds, and it was helpful for me to see the urgency of this situation first-hand.”
Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office