Dear Editor:

Mike Smith of Salida Mountain Trails makes a case July 6 that SMT is holier than Envision Chaffee County in management of Chaffee County trails. He was backed by Mail Publisher Merle Baranczyk July 9. That should make debate a slam-dunk in favor of SMT, but Envision has an ace in the hole.

A few years back, Chaffee County voted to impose a sales tax increase to fund projects supported by Envision. Willingness and ability to promote a tax on poor people’s food to support rich people’s recreation has a long history. That ability has been reserved historically for the Most Holy. So let’s call it a draw and bring in other players.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife began studying impacts of predator depredation on mule deer in the Picance Basin and Upper Arkansas Valley. The Picance plan eliminates select bears to lower their populations and see if that improves mule deer outlook. Little is known about methods and how many have been eliminated because CPW would rather not divulge that. Columnist Jason Blevins in the Colorado Sun quotes from notes that mention kills including a lactating sow with nearby cubs.

A Denver District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit attempting to stop this execution because CPW was conducting a science experiment and research is allowed under a law banning lethal trapping.

Anyone who has lived through the last year of scientific debate about COVID and dubious methods used for our safety is aware there is no higher power than science. That is doubly true in Picance, because the real cause of declining mule deer populations corresponds to that basin becoming a prime oil and gas field. If anything is more holy than science, it must be oil and gas. End of debate. Except …

In the Upper Arkansas Basin CPW is conducting the population reduction experiment on mountain lions, with an end result “hopefully” of a 50 percent kill. Again science is needed to prove that bike trails, housing and other encroachments are not posing problems for mule deer, not breaking up food chains, and everything is fine.

The executions have been stayed by Federal Judge Marsha Krieger, who ruled the U.S. wildlife agency cannot fund outright slaughter without conducting its own impact statement. Euthanasia, a fine scientific term for murder, can continue if CPW can fund it without federal aid, or another court could rule differently, which would put mountain lions back on the menu.

Mike Smith said he welcomed “all constructive dialogue.” In that vein I offer a proposal to SMT and Envision Chaffee County membership. Please when traveling in woods lather up with deer scent. If mountain lions detect deer scent on bipeds and mistake them for deer, the resulting population decrease will leave more room for others on existing trails.

There is an Indian belief that to be called home in the jaws of a big cat is divine. The result from good application is the possibility of becoming The Most Holy.

Kirby Perschbacher,