By Carol Strazer
After forty-two and one-half years as Red Feather District’s Wildlife Officer, Jim Jackson will retire. For those who doubt it, Jackson’s official last day working for Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be Dec. 31.
Mountain property owners have benefited greatly from his work, including moose reintroduction and programs to reduce human-bear conflict.
In 1978, the Colorado Division of Wildlife began a program to reintroduce moose to Colorado. Moose from Wyoming were captured and relocated to North Park and then dispersed to various areas.
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But people in the Laramie Valley wanted their own moose, so in 1982, Jackson said he “wrote a letter to the supervisor and 12 moose from Jackson Hole were trapped in 1987 and were released in the Laramie River Valley.”
The project was so successful that this year ten bull and 25 cow moose tags were issued to hunters.
In Cherokee Park, he helped develop wildlife food plots to attract bears, deer and elk. In 1981, Jackson’s pistol marksman ship got him named to Gov. Richard Lamm’s Top 20 Team of officers. Six years later, he initiated the first successful deer decoy project on Deadman Road to lure and arrest poachers.
Jim Jackson’s knowledge of bears and the state-sponsored Bear Aware program provided much needed help in 2005 to Crystal Lakes. From 2000 to 2004, the community had experienced an average of more than 100 bear break-ins a year. Then in 2005, a record 122 bear incidents (42 in homes) occurred. Jackson mobilized the community. Under his tutelage the CL Bear Aware Team was organized, led by Jane and Jim Tiffin and Curt Livingston.
Early in the program a bear, not likely a rogue bear, was trapped and destroyed. “The day that animal was executed I was choked up and, like other folks, I woke up that there needed to be a better way,” Jackson said.
Tiffin said, “Many wildlife managers would have just trapped and killed bears until the break-ins stopped, but Jim’s love for animals, especially bears, proved there was a better way.”
In two years, the number of break-ins was zero; bears re-adapted to the wild. Since then, annual bear break-ins have been few, near, or at zero. The CL Bear Aware Team and Jim Jackson achieved state and national recognition.
In May, the Bear Aware Team evolved into the CL Wildlife Group with its purpose to educate both humans and wildlife how to live together safely.
“Jim, the group’s liaison, has so much animal savvy, knowledge, and experience, it will be difficult to replace him,” CL Wildlife Group leader Susan Vance said.
Crystal Lakes wants to express its deep appreciation to Jim Jackson, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer, for his valuable and dedicated service to our community.