Letter to the editor: Parks and Wildlife should care more about nongame species
What about Bambi, Yogi Bear, Coyote Joe, Wiley Wolf and other beloved wildlife? Colorado Parks and Wildlife only protects game species for gaming purposes.
The actions of Parks and Wildlife’s Northwest Regional Manager JT Romatzke should be a concern for all Colorado residents.
Romatzke lobbied against two members of Parks and Wildlife’s commission who expressed interest in promoting nongame species. The commission is the governor-appointed body that oversees Parks and Wildlife.
Romatzke also repeatedly spoke out against the 2020 voter approved mandate to restore gray wolves to the state.
Parks and Wildlife’s employees do not get to decide the views of the agency. That’s the role of the governor and should reflect the views of the general public.
While Romatzke’s misdeeds are worrisome, they raise important issues about Parks and Wildlife’s culture. It is a traditional western state wildlife agency. It is operated as a good old boys “hook and bullet” club, catering to anglers and hunters, with relatively little attention being paid to threatened, endangered and nongame wildlife. Officials like Romatzke feel empowered to take actions that are unethical at best.
Most of Colorado’s residents, the real owners of the state’s wildlife, do not hunt or fish. Many are deeply concerned about the future of the state’s wildlife and would like to see more emphasis on species that are not the focus of hunters and anglers.
The arrogance and disregard for the public’s views about wildlife that Romatzke demonstrated is unacceptable. It’s time for Parks and Wildlife to shift more of its attention to the many species that people care about. Such a shift will need strong direction from the governor, the Department of Natural Resources and the commission to change Parks and Wildlife’s internal culture and philosophy, and to hire employees who care about nongame and threatened species.
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