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ATVs transport weed seeds, hurt habitat

Brief by Central Staff

Wildlife – December 1999 – Colorado Central Magazine –

The major threat to wildlife habitat in Colorado is the ATV — the All Terrain Vehicle. That’s what Bob Caskey, regional wildlife manager, told the Park County Commissioners on Nov. 4.

It isn’t the ruts they leave, so much as “They’re carrying weed seeds up … creating a lot of resource and environmental damage.”

When the weeds grow, they push out the native forage that deer and elk rely on. The Colorado Division of Wildlife spends about $250,000 a year on weed abatement, but can work only on its own land, which is a tiny portion of the state’s habitat.

Fire suppression has also contributed greatly to habitat loss, Caskey said. And as fuels accumulate because small fires aren’t allowed to burn their course, the stage is set for a big blaze that we won’t be able to control.

“I’m on a mission to get Smokey Bear fired,” Caskey said, since “the entire state is set up for a catastrophic event.”