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Last updated 1:45PM ET
December 14, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Clock Ticking For Gunnison Wildlife, Volunteers Needed
(2008-01-16)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A massive effort to feed wildlife in the Gunnison Basin is gearing up this week.
And wildlife officials are looking for some help.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

LEWANDOWSKI: IT IS UNUSUAL. THE PROBLEM IS WE DON'T WANT TO HAVE A MASSIVE DIE OFF.
VICTOR: Division of Wildlife Spokesman Joe Lewandowski says they plan to feed thousands of mule deer and other wildlife in the Gunnison Basin.
It's an effort the state hasn't seen of this size, in more than 20-years, and could stretch over two months.
The problem is heavy snows, 3-4 feet deep have covered natural forage, especially for deer.
Frigid temperatures of 25 or so below at night and near zero during the day are further stressing wildlife in the Gunnison Basin.
Without a feeding program, Lewandowski says they could lose thousands of deer.
LEWANDOWSKI: IF WE HAVE A MASSIVE DIE OFF, WE'VE HAD THAT HAPPEN OVER HERE BEFORE AND IT TAKES YEARS FOR THE DEER HERD TO RECOVER, AND THAT'S TOUGH ON THE ANIMALS, TOUGH ON THE RESOURCE, TOUGH ON THE ECONOMY OF GUNNISON, THEY REALLY RELY ON THESE ANIMALS FOR A BIG PIECE OF THE ECONOMY.
A massive feeding program aimed at primarily at mule deer will cover hundreds of square miles in the Gunnison Basin.
LEWANDOWSKI: WE'VE GOT PROBABLY 50 SITES SPREAD OUT OVER PROBABLY 50 OR 60 MILES GOING NORTH AND SOUTH, AND EAST AND WEST, AND THEY'RE 21-THOUSAND DEER ESTIMATED IN THE GUNNISON AREA, AND WE'LL PROBABLY GET TO FEED ABOUT 8-THOUSAND OF THEM.
Some elk will also be fed to draw them away from deer feeding sites.
Bighorn sheep and pronghorn in the area will also be fed but to a lesser extent.
And it's going to be expensive.
Lewandowski says a quarter of a million dollars has already been earmarked for the feeding.
LEWANDOWSKI: THE DIRECTOR OF THE DIVISION OF WILDLIFE SAID THIS COULD HIT A MILLION DOLLARS.
And the DOW is looking for volunteers to help.
LEWANDOWSKI: ONE OF THE BIG NEEDS IS GONNA BE PEOPLE WITH SNOWMOBILES. ONE WE GET THESE AREAS PACKED OUT, THE SNOW PACKED DOWN SO SNOWMOBILES CAN GET ON THEM, PEOPLE WILL BE ASSIGNED DIFFERENT AREAS AND THEY'LL BE GIVEN BAGS OF FOOD AND THEY'LL TAKE THIS FOOD AND SPREAD IT OUT TO THE DEER IN THE AREAS WHERE THEY'RE LOOKING PRETTY TOUGH. THIS WILL PROBABLY GO ON FOR ABOUT SIX WEEK.
The biggest need for volunteers is during the week.
Because there's training involved, the DOW needs people who can commit for 3-7 days.
To volunteer you can call Jennifer at the Durango DOW office, 375-6704.
Or go to the DOW website at wildlife.state.co.us.
Fill out the form found under the volunteer tab at the top of the home page.
Print it, and fax it to the Gunnison DOW office.
That number is 970-641-7883.
Lewandowski hopes a lot of people can help out.
LEWANDOWSKI: PEOPLE WANT TO COME FROM ANYWHERE, WE CERTAINLY WILL WELCOME THEM. WE'VE ALREADY GOT INQUIRIES FROM PEOPLE IN NEBRASKA AND ALL OVER COLORADO.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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