Columns » Ranger Rich

Mass murder of Colorado elk


Having a marksman with a dart rifle shoot a tiny, chemical-release, birth-control device into the buttocks of young females is:

A. An idea being considered by Rocky Mountain National Park officials to control the size of the park's elk herd.

B. A widely accepted practice in wild-game management programs worldwide and an effective way to halt reproduction.

C. A terrific idea if you could just get Britney Spears and pregnant 16-year-old sister Jamie Lynn to hold still long enough for a clean shot. (Footnote: Music experts say that by getting knocked up at 16, as she admitted last week, Jamie Lynn has disproven the long-held belief that Britney got all the talent in the family.)

D. Damn, where was this type of high-tech birth control when Barbara Bush was young?

All four answers are, of course, correct. (Hollywood insiders say Britney was so disappointed with her younger sister, who Britney said is not mature enough to be a parent, that she accidentally sped off in her car with a cup of coffee still on the roof, along with her two hungry, crying kids.)

But enough about that. Today we'll focus on Rocky Mountain National Park and its efforts to control the elk population, and I hereby vow not to make any more references to the Spears sisters or how they consider underwear an inconvenience.

Rocky Mountain National Park spans the Continental Divide, and it's a sprawling place of great majesty and breath-stealing beauty, with the sparkling Big Thompson River meandering through its woods and grasslands. But it has been devastated in recent years by the hungry elk. Native plants such as willows and aspens have been nearly wiped out by the estimated 3,100 elk that live in and around the park.

Wildlife experts say that in another 15 years at the current pace, 3,100 will also be roughly the same number of Spears children involved in custody disputes.

Anyway, while the birth-control option is still being considered, park officials announced last week a more direct way to control the elk: shooting them.

"In the absence of natural predators here, we have to replicate what they would do," said park superintendent Vaughn Baker. "We are mandated to maintain the natural process here."

The "natural process" will go like this: The elk, as many as 200 of them each year, will be shot at night, at close range, by people using guns and I'm not kidding about this equipped with silencers.

This same "natural process" has been used for more than 100 years by wildlife biologists named Vinny who live in New Jersey. The culling process effectively reduces the population of many species of animal such as weasels, cockroaches and dirty, no-good, rat-bastards like Paulie "Provolone" Tataglia, who couldn't keep his big $%^&*# mouth shut.

Although the wildlife biologists are, uh, you know, of many other ethnic backgrounds, too.


According to the plan, the whacking, I mean culling, of the elk could begin in January. Seriously, the rangers and other National Park Service employees would be allowed to shoot from the roads, each night taking out some 20 to 30 elk until they reach the annual quota. And, of course, any witnesses or guys named Sonny who might be from rival families.

Not being considered by park officials as part of the "natural process" is the reintroduction of wolves, which were eliminated from the area by hunting about 110 years ago after they had effectively controlled the elk population in the area for more than a thousand years.

The new program, in which as many as 1,000 elk will be killed by federal government employees using silencers and operating under the cover of darkness, will cost about $6 million. By way of comparison, a similar U.S. government program several decades ago cost nearly $40 million and Castro is still alive!

The $6 million price tag includes salaries of the hired elk shooters plus associated costs, such as the guns, ammunition and silencers.

And, of course, if you're going to knock off 1,000 elk this way, you can't overlook the cost of 4,000 cement shoes.

Listen to Rich Tosches at 8 a.m. most Thursdays on the Darren and Coba Show on MY99.9. Reach him at

Comments (3)

Showing 1-3 of 3

Add a comment

Add a comment

Clicky Quantcast