Bear-ly worth considering

Grizzlies in Colorado?

Sounds good ... until someone gets mauled.

And if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service moves grizzlies to Colorado, a mauling is not a question of if, but when.

The Center for Biological Diversity contends that Colorado has the space and the ecological need for an apex predator and that reintroducing the bears would aid recovery efforts and restore balance to the natural ecosystem.

The Colorado Wildlife Commission has twice gone on record opposing grizzly reintroduction, and Fish and Wildlife says its grizzly recovery efforts are doing just fine in four states. In fact, it would stretch already-thin resources to try to manage the bears in Colorado.

That should be a relief to anyone who enjoys backcountry hiking, camping and backpacking. Dealing with black bears is enough of a challenge. The state economy has a significant stake in the outdoor recreation market. How much impact would grizzlies have on tourism? Not in drawing people here, but in keeping them away?

Colorado has a distinct advantage over Wyoming and Montana in that it lacks the threat of a grizzly attack for outdoor enthusiasts. It also has much higher population densities, although grizzly advocates want the animals placed in remote areas like the Roan Plateau. Does it really matter? Who’s going to stop a massive bear from snacking on free-range cattle or wandering over to Steamboat Springs or Aspen?

We certainly appreciate the good intentions of conservation-minded groups who petition Fish and Wildlife to consider the role — and fate — of large carnivores. But any inclination to do right by Mother Nature inevitably butts up against the practicalities of modern life.

Colorado has lived without grizzlies for decades. Grizzlies aren’t on the verge of extinction. Let’s dispense with far-fetched conservation efforts. We have our hands full with sage-grouse and prairie chickens.


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