Antler Collectors Advised to Avoid Stressing Wildlife

As antler collectors travel the backcountry in search of fresh sheds this coming spring, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has reminded them to avoid stressing wildlife still struggling to survive the cold weather and the lack of forage.

Many collectors use freshly shed antlers to create artwork, furniture and other goods. Although most are responsible, state wildlife officers occasionally receive reports of people on motorized vehicles chasing elk or deer herds in hopes of collecting a fresh pair of antlers dropped by a startled animal.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminds the public that harassing wildlife is unethical and illegal and can result in significant fines for violators.

“We caution everyone to be respectful of animals still dealing with tough conditions,” said Lyle Sidener, area wildlife manager in Hot Sulphur Springs. “Loud noise, fast moving vehicles and other disruptive human activity is a serious concern because it can stress animals that are trying to conserve energy, leading to higher mortality, especially in fawns and calves.”

In some cases, the spooked animals will seek shelter on private land increasing the likelihood of game damage conflicts, or they may run across highways and railroad tracks leading to injuries or death from collisions.

“Hunting for shed antlers is a great way to get some fresh air and enjoy the outdoors,” continued Sidener. “But remember to keep your distance from wildlife and respect closed areas.”

Some areas of Colorado close to all human activity during winter and into early spring to protect wildlife, including big game that migrates to lower elevations. In the Gunnison Basin, regulations prohibit antler collecting in game management units 54, 55, 551, 66 and 67, from Jan. 1 through March 14. From March 15 through May 15, shed antler collecting is prohibited from legal sunset until 10 a.m. Violators can be fined by Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers for entering and collecting in closed areas.

Public land management agencies recommend that checking the latest rules and regulations regarding the use of motorized vehicles may prevent costly fines issued by their officers, and local sheriff departments and local law enforcement agencies advise honoring all “No Trespassing” signs to avoid breaking the law.

The growth of antlers is one of nature’s most interesting and unique phenomenons. Soon after temperatures warm up in late spring, male deer, elk and moose begin growing a new pair of antlers. During the fall mating season, the bulls and bucks will display their fully-grown racks in an effort to attract females, or use them to joust with other males as they compete for a mate.

After mating season ends and snow and low temperatures move in, the animals focus almost exclusively on finding food and surviving. By the end of winter, when forage becomes especially scarce and the animals rely almost entirely on their fat stores, the bulls and bucks will shed the extra weight of their antlers to conserve energy as they await the spring green-up. Soon after the weather warms, the growth of antlers begins anew.

Some suggestions wildlife managers offer to avoid stressing animals during this time, is too keep your distance and consider searching for shed antlers on foot or horseback instead of a motorized vehicle.

“You can miss much while riding on a fast moving ATV,” said Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager from Meeker. “A slow approach can result in better luck finding antlers, and it will certainly be easier on wildlife.”

Many shed antler collectors bring their dogs along, some of which are trained specifically for this purpose. Wildlife managers advise pet owners to keep their dogs under control at all times because in the presence of wildlife, even the most domesticated pets can quickly revert to their primitive instincts and may severely injure deer, elk or other animals. The public is reminded that in Colorado, any law enforcement officer is authorized to take immediate action to stop dogs from attacking wildlife.

Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde encourages the public to be ethical when encountering wildlife, and asks the public to do their part to protect one of the state’s most valuable natural resources.

“Wildlife belongs to the people of Colorado and the public can certainly help us protect it by calling right away if they see anyone violating wildlife laws,” he said.

State Revenue Forecast Improves by $227.9 Million

The Governor’s Office of State Planning and Budgeting (OSPB) announced state general fund revenue is projected to be $227.9 million higher in the current fiscal year than was forecast in December.

For FY 2013-14, the forecast is $256.1 million higher than the prior projection. The increase in the revenue forecast is due to continued better-than-expected growth in individual and corporate income tax revenue.

Under current law, the excess funds in the new revenue forecast for the current fiscal year will be transferred to the State Education Fund. This fund supports per-pupil funding in Colorado school districts.

Under current law, the excess funds in the new revenue forecast for the current fiscal year will be transferred to the State Education Fund. This fund supports per-pupil funding in Colorado school districts.

OSPB reports in the forecast that growth may slow next year.

“While economic activity at the national level continues to be modest and uneven, Colorado has many attributes necessary for success in the post-Great Recession economy, fostering its position among the top states in economic performance,” according to the forecast. “Economic growth is expected to moderate in 2013 due to recent federal tax rate increases and budget reductions, the heightened uncertainty surrounding the federal debt level, and headwinds from the European economic and financial crisis.”


Colorado Ranks in Top 10 Nationwide for Scores on Advanced Placement Exams

The ninth annual AP Report to the Nation, released recently by the College Board, reports that Colorado ranks ninth in the nation for the percentage of the class of 2012 students scoring a three or higher on Advanced Placement (AP) exams.

AP exam scores are reported on a five-point scale. Students receiving a three or higher earn a qualifying score to apply course work for college credit. Colorado has ranked in the top 10 nationally for the past six years.

The report illustrates the nation’s progress in AP course participation and AP exam results as well as persisting inequities. This year, the report found more graduates nationwide have succeeded on AP exams today than the number of students that took AP exams in 2002. It also concluded that while states have made great strides in closing equity gaps for underserved minority and low-income students, these students remain underrepresented in AP classrooms and in the population of students scoring a three or higher on AP exams.

Colorado highlights:

• The number of Colorado graduates who took an AP exam in high school increased from 17,303 in 2011 to 18,358 in 2012.
• 59.8 percent of Colorado 2012 graduates that took AP exams received a score of three or higher which qualifies them to apply the course work for college credit. The number of graduates that scored a three or higher also increased from 10,692 in 2011 to 11,442 graduates in 2012.
• Colorado ranked sixth in the nation for improving the percentage of graduates scoring a three or higher on an AP exam in the last decade by 10.5 percent.
• Colorado made progress in closing the participation and achievement equity gaps compared to 2011. Hispanic/Latino students made up 22.5 percent of the class of 2012 and 11.6 percent of those students scored a three or higher on an AP exam.

Five Colorado school districts were also recognized by the 3rd Annual AP Honor Roll. To receive the distinction, the district must demonstrate three years of improved AP qualifying scores by increasing both exam participation and performance especially among under-represented student populations. The 2012 districts are: Boulder Valley School District, Lewis-Palmer School District #38, Estes Park School District, Poudre School District and Weld RE-4 School District. This is the second year Boulder Valley and Lewis-Palmer school districts have received the award.


In high school sports over the weekend:

In girls soccer:
Moffat County beat Rangely 9-0
Steamboat tied Battle Mountain1-1

In girls lacrosse:
Steamboat lost to Rampart 15-14 OT
Steamboat beat Eagle Valley 13-4

In girls tennis:
Steamboat fell to Poudre 5-2
Steamboat lost to Fossil Ridge, 6-1 and beat Thompson Valley 6-1

In boys lacrosse:
Steamboat fell to Rock Canyon 10-6

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