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RANGELY | In January, Parachute native Garrett Smith relocated to Rangely and took on his new position as the Colorado Parks and Wildlife District Wildlife Manager. Officer Smith, a wildlife biology graduate of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, took over management of unit 10 and the north end of unit 11 after Officer Nate Martinez transferred to Pagosa Springs. Growing up in Parachute, Smith said he always had an interest in hunting and fishing but it was not a family hobby.
He said his family loved to travel while he was growing up. Smith pursued outdoor sports on his own and has become an avid hunter and fisherman as an adult. Smith’s parents still live in Parachute and his siblings are finishing secondary education on the western slope. Rangely reminds him of home with its small town feel and roots in oil and gas and agriculture. Smith intends on staying in Rangely for some of his career but is looking forward to his advancement opportunities with Colorado Parks and Wildlife. He is particularly concerned with and interested in the sage grouse and mule deer populations in this area.
A recent stint in Piceance Creek as a mule deer research technician sparked his interest.
“I kept track of the collared deer and collected their data from birth to adulthood,” he said. He was able to do capture work from helicopters and says the most important thing he learned while working in the Piceance Basin was how to identify specific mortality in the mule deer he kept tracked. This has given him a better understanding of what to look for when evaluating predator losses to farmers and ranchers. When asked about the controversial topic of wolf reintroduction in this area, Smith simply replied, “CPW is not interested in doing a reintroduction of wolves.”
The biggest challenge he foresees for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the future is maintaining and increasing the number of hunters and anglers in the field. Smith pointed out the aggressive social media attacks of legal licensed hunters who post their successful harvests. Recently, Colorado woman Franchesca Esplin took to her Facebook page to post video and photos from a recent hunt where she harvested a mountain lion. She was later attacked by an extremist animal rights organization who called her “deplorable and sadistic.” The same organization, Prairie Protection, is supporting a citizen petition to make the hunting and trapping of bobcats illegal.
Smith expressed his dismay for this type of behavior towards legal hunting, hunters and wildlife management. According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website, hunters and anglers are responsible for funding more than 70 percent of CPW’s wildlife management programs. “Nationwide numbers are going down for hunters,” he said.
By Roxie Fromang | Special to the Herald Times