Sportsmen will be allowed to hunt and kill elk on Boulder County open space this fall following a unanimous decision by the Boulder County Commissioners on Thursday. KGNU’s Roz Brown says the elk herd on Rabbit Mountain – the eastern most point of the foothills in Boulder County – was not a problem until the elk grew so clever they stopped migrating to higher country to avoid hunters and their rifles.
When the elk stopped migrating their numbers grew exponentially. Boulder County estimates there are now 250 elk on 500 acres at Rabbit Mountain compared to 25 elk 10 years ago. Mary Dobbs has been a resident of Rabbit Mountain for 21 years and opposes the elk hunting. She works with kids on her property and encouraged the commissioners to try more fencing, hazing and elk birth control before allowing hunters to kill them.
“There are good, effective, proven options for elk management on Rabbit Mountain so why does our Open Space and Parks management insist on killing the elk?”
Dobbs believes allowing hunting on open space betrays what the county stands for.
“We strongly believe that it’s wrong to save one species – plants – by killing another – elk,” said Dobbs. “Let’s find a way to get them to migrate back into the mountains without shooting them. Let’s not open up open space to hunting because once it starts we won’t be able to stop it.”
Skip Hicks and his ancestors have lived at Rabbit Mountain for more than century, surrounded now by open space on three sides. He says he’s watched elk sneak onto his property late at night and leave before he sunup to avoid confrontations with humans.
“They cost me all kinds of money,” said Hicks. “They tear down my fences, eat my grass and hay. We never had this problem for a 100 years, but now the elk feel safe on open space and something needs to be done because they’re a horrible nuisance.”
The commissioners approved a limited elk hunting season on Rabbit Mountain that will start the week after Labor Day and run Mondays through Wednesdays until the end of January 2018. Boulder County hopes the hunt will discourage the elk from staying year-round and reduce to herd to somewhere between 30 and 75.