Controlled hunting to reduce the elk herd at the Ron Stewart Preserve on Rabbit Mountain just east of Lyons was approved in 2017. But according to Boulder County Parks & Open Space, the herd hasn’t been culled sufficiently. Another large herd, the Red Hill herd, is located between Heil Valley Ranch and Table Mountain on either side of US Route 36.
The County has been trying to address the large number of elk in these areas, and to that end will hold hearings February 27 and March 30 to discuss increasing the number of hunt dates as one potential option. Both hearings will be held at the County Courthouse, Commissioners’ Hearing Room, 1325 Pearl Street in Boulder. The first hearing will take place at 6:30 pm, and the March 30 hearing will be held at 4:30 pm.
The Red Hill herd grazes on open space on either side of of Route 36, and historically has spent the fall and winter in this area. The herd once foraged in the higher elevations during the summer, but now uses the Route 36 corridor all year round. The County is looking at “limited hunting and other resource management tools” for the Rabbit Mountain herd. It is also “considering management options” for the Red Hill elk herd.
The increased population has led to more elk-automobile crashes, particularly on Route 36, as well as “extensive damage to the highly diverse native plants and wildlife habitat” at Rabbit Mountain, according to the County. A number of Lyons Happenings Facebook posters have offered observations and suggestions prior to the public hearings, ranging from bringing in wolves, wildlife overpasses, and increased hunting.