10-11-18 CO Representative Kimmi Lewis Op-Ed: “Carnivores in Cattle Country”

CARNIVORES IN CATTLE COUNTRY

As a young cattle producer and a mother of six, I learned how to testify at the state capitol in Denver back in the early nineties.  I would go and testify about predators killing our livestock.  I had many pictures showing the damage and the dead calves from coyotes and mountain lions in Southeast Colorado.  In fact, my very first 4-H heifer at the age of nine had her first calf killed by a coyote.  Every time I’d testify I’d also remind people that I RAISE these predators.  Yes, I supply the habitat and land and water on my private property for them to exist.  Do we hunt them?  We sure do, but if you have ever been in the Purgatoire Canyonlands you will realize the hunt is not an easy one plus it takes time that producers don’t have.

A gentleman from Boulder by the name of Pat Craig of the Wild Animal Sanctuary in Keenesburg, CO has decided to bring carnivores in cattle country.  Yes, the cattle country of Southeast Colorado where I grew up.  I am a native of Southeast Colorado and no, I did not inherit my ranch.  My late husband Dave and I bought it and the cattle that graze here, which is my capital investment.  This investment is what makes the majority of my income and my way of life.  This ranch has been here in my family 60 years as my grandparents came from Texas to Kim, CO 101 years ago.  I am not a “newby” and have a lot of experience in raising cattle and living on the land with my family, which I am proud of. As a young girl, my three sisters and I worked this ranch and worked hard, just like men.

After going to a Southern Colorado Livestock Association meeting in Branson, Colorado and hearing Mr. Craig’s reasons for coming to Southeast Colorado, it is apparent to me that he doesn’t understand the impact the new “Refuge” will have on the cattle producers and how difficult it will be to keep these carnivores in their enclosures. Historically, this area is very rural and has always had cattle grazing on it since the Homestead Days of my grandfather.  It is a foregone conclusion that the carnivores and predators will escape.  Upon a severe weather event, there is no way that the “Refuge” will be able to keep those carnivores and predators within their fences.  This country’s terrain is drastically different than Keenesburg in Weld County.

No one should be surprised that livestock producers would oppose such a needless burden on our private property.   I pray that the people who are pushing this will not bring their carnivores and predators such as wolves, bears, tigers, lions and mountain lions here into our historic region.  We have enough predators here as I lost three calves to mountain lions last spring, we don’t need more.  I vote NO to carnivores in cattle country.

Op-Ed written & submitted to The BARN by:

State Representative Kimmi Clark Lewis, Muddy Valley Ranch, Kim, CO

House District 64 “Truly God’s Country”