A Colorado hunter said he plans to “keep making as much noise as I can” about what he thinks are anti-hunting appointments to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission.
“It’s literally trying to normalize the idea that hunting is no longer needed,” Grant Jerry told Cowboy State Daily on Tuesday.
Jerry lives in the Pike’s Peak area near Colorado Springs, and said he’s upset about recent appointments of people he claims are anti-hunters and animal rights activists to the Colorado Wildlife Commission, which is the equivalent of the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.
The commissions are responsible for setting wildlife management policies, hunting seasons and the like.
Jerry said anti-hunting and animal rights sentiments have started to creep into wildlife management agencies in other states, such as Washington. And although Wyoming seems solidly set against those platforms, Cowboy State hunters shouldn’t take for granted that anti-hunting activists won’t gain a foothold here someday.
Picked By Governors
Wildlife commissioners in both states are appointed by their governors, and are later confirmed by the state senates.
Jerry said hopes that if he and other Colorado hunters and anglers raise a big enough ruckus, the Colorado state Senate this spring won’t confirm Gov. Jared Polis’ commission appointments of Gary Skiba and Jess Beaulieu.
Meanwhile, Skiba and Beaulieu will sit on the commission, along with another of Polis’ recent appointees, John (Jack) Murphy.
Murphy’s appointment isn’t as controversial as the other two, Jerry said. Murphy runs Urban Wildlife Rescue. It’s a nonprofit that specializes in the nonlethal removal of pest animals such as squirrels and raccoons, which city animal control departments typically won’t handle.
Skiba is a wildlife biologist who helped draft Colorado’s wolf reintroduction program. He is also a member of Defenders of Wildlife, which Jerry and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) claim is an “anti-hunting” organization.
Jerry is a life member of RMEF.
Beaulieu runs the University of Denver’s Animal Law Program, which Jerry and RMEF say is focused on “animal rights” and also is anti-hunting. She is also connected to the Center For Biological Diversity.
Skiba returned a call from Cowboy State Daily, but said he won’t comment to the press regarding his appointment to the commission. A request for comment from Cowboy State Daily to Beaulieu went unanswered as of Tuesday afternoon.
Jerry said he thinks that the recent appointments, particularly of Skiba and Beaulieu, represent a longer-term strategy of stacking Colorado’s 11-member wildlife commission with anti-hunters and extreme environmentalists.
Those sentiments are blossoming in some of Colorado’s urban zones, such as the Denver-Boulder metro areas, he said.
Jerry recently attended a Colorado Wildlife Commission meeting, where he made scathing remarks about the appointments during a public comment period. He shared a transcript of his remarks with Cowboy State Daily.
“Recently, our own governor has sought out commissioners with little to no hunting background, individuals with a long history at anti-hunting organizations such as Center for Biological Diversity — with a well-known track record of challenging ethical hunting practices in western states through lawsuits and litigation — and more recently the Denver University Animal Law Center, with the stated goal of fighting ‘routine killing of non-humans,’ which I would assume includes the legal practice of hunting,” he told the commission.
“And when it was time to fill a seat in the commission, designated to represent the equities and interests of sportspersons-hunter and anglers, the governor completely ignored the recommendation of a well-respected collection of the largest wildlife conservation and hunting organizations in Colorado,” he added.
Jerry, who plans to retire soon from active-duty Army service, told Cowboy State Daily that he’s also disappointed that apparently no military veterans were considered for commission appointments.
‘He’s A Nice Guy’
Jerry said he respects Skiba’s background in wildlife biology, even if he disagrees with some of Skiba’s opinions and associations.
He added that after he made his remarks at the Colorado commission meeting, Skiba approached him, and they had a civil conversation.
“He’s a nice guy, and I think there could be a chance that we could at least work with him,” Jerry said.
Not A Problem In Wyoming, Yet
Avid hunter and former Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner Mike Schmid of La Barge told Cowboy State Daily that he isn’t too concerned about overt anti-hunters being appointed to the commission here anytime soon.
However, he does worry about the direction wildlife management might take in the future.
“I don’t believe we have that (anti-hunting) mission in Wyoming, yet,” he said.
“I do have concern over some of our up-and-coming wildlife biologists,” he added. “All of these universities these days stamp out environmentalist-type biologists, and don’t think it matters what university you go to.”
Mark Heinz can be reached at email@example.com.