A growing stash of more than 6 tons of ivory from slaughtered elephants, heaped in a warehouse north of Denver, is about to be destroyed as part of a new U.S. push to combat illegal wildlife trafficking worldwide. Publicly crushing the smuggled tusks and carvings will be the first act to end what has become a $10 billion illegal industry with security implications officials liken to those of illegal drug dealing.
“Our experience is that the only way to end this trade is to get international support. That’s the goal of what we’re doing with this crush,” said Steve Oberholtzer, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service special-agent-in-charge based in Denver, who is lining up rock-grinders to pulverize the ivory in October.
U.S. authorities on Thursday crushed 6 tons of seized ivory, each piece cut from dead elephants, signaling resolve to kill a $10 billion illicit trade linked to international crime and terrorism.
Tusks and carved objects seized from airports and border crossings over the past two decades were loaded into a blue rock-grinder near a warehouse at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge where the ivory was kept, and pulverized it all into fine chips.
COMMERCE CITY — Three years after a former weapons and pesticides plant reopened as the nation’s largest urban wildlife preserve, bison are multiplying too fast.
There are 85 today, more than quadruple 2007’s number, threatening to degrade drought-prone prairie at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Federal biologists say they must cut the herd by 25 — and keep it at 60 until fenced habitat is expanded.
PUEBLO — Thirty black-footed ferrets bolted from cages onto barren ranchland Wednesday, potentially launching a new approach to rescuing endangered species — and introducing a natural predator of prairie dogs.
Although the federal government, led by biologists in Colorado, has bred thousands of black-footed ferrets in captivity, they still do not exist as self-sustaining species in the wild.
Plague has attacked some released ferrets in other states, but the bigger problem has been landowners hesitant to allow an endangered animal on their land fearing liability if anything happens to it.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK — A dozen moose transplanted in 1978 found an ideal safe harbor in Colorado’s high country, multiplying rapidly and migrating across mountains into South Park and the foothills west of Denver.
Frogs, toads and other amphibians are vanishing so fast nationwide that if the decline continues at the same rate, they’ll be gone from half their current habitats in 20 years, a federal study has found.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on Friday proposed federal protection for wolverines imperiled by climate change — by nurturing survivors in the southern Rocky Mountains, including Colorado.
Wolverines need heavy late-season snow to form dens and to cache food, and the latest science finds that warming will cause 63 percent of habitat suitable for wolverines — mostly on federal land — to vanish by 2085. Colorado high country offers a refuge with snow.
While state biologists wait for federal authorities to declare a second species — wolverines — endangered by climate change, one lone male wolverine is making the case that Colorado mountains are a critical refuge.
But the wolverine, M56, arrived on his own, and it likely would take an act of the state legislature to import any others.
Now entering a fourth winter after trekking from Wyoming across the Red Desert into Rocky Mountain National Park, M56 has not only survived but thrived. Food apparently hasn’t been a problem — marmots in summer, meaty elk bones during winter.
A study unraveling the genetics of Colorado’s state fish, the greenback cutthroat trout, has found that pure greenbacks exist only on a 4-mile stretch of a creek southwest of Colorado Springs.
This overhaul of what is defined as a greenback cutthroat may come as a blow to anglers who fished such high-country sweet spots as Rocky Mountain National Park and thought they caught the real thing.
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The hundreds of thousands of gallons of red slurry that air tankers are dropping on Colorado forests to shield mountain houses from wildfires has a downside: It is toxic. Laced with ammonia and nitrates, it has the potential to kill fish and taint water supplies.
Federal authorities say they’re implementing new rules prohibiting application of fire-retardant chemicals within 600 feet of waterways. Air tanker pilots and crew commanders now are required to carry maps that identify sensitive terrain — such as areas where greenback cutthroat trout and Pawnee montane skipper butterflies are monitored as sentinel species.
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