A hunter’s symbiotic relationship with local wildlife
By Shaun Kernahan; photo courtesy of Greg Vigil
In 1903, Theodore Roosevelt, an avid hunter and the 26th president of the United States, founded the National Wildlife Refuge System. When discussing the symbiotic relationship between hunters and wildlife conservation he was quoted as saying, “In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.”
Greg Vigil, 27-year resident of Castle Pines and a hunter himself, agrees conservation and hunting go hand in hand. He grew up in Vail and admits he saw the fluctuation of elk population when they were over hunted purely for sport. He also saw them come back and thrive as hunters helped raise money for conservation efforts.
“In a civilized and cultivated country, wild animals only continue to exist at all when preserved by sportsmen.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
In a 2019 study by the National Sporting Goods Association, it was found that there were an estimated 41,000 elk remaining in all of North America in 1907. Now there are more than one million. More than 280,000 of those are living in Colorado – the largest elk population in a single state/province in the world. In addition to the National Wildlife Refuge System, which has produced eight refuges in the state of Colorado, including three in the greater Denver area, the Pittman-Robertson Act generates $700 million annually to be distributed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service across the country to assist in conservation. The act raises funds via an 11% tax on sporting arms and ammunition, illustrating how the sport helps with conserving the states wildlife population.
Greg, along with most hunters, has a family rule that you only hunt what you will eat. He has taught his four children, Jacob, Caleb, Elijah, and Eliana to hunt as well, although he admits his daughter has only gone hunting once. Greg prefers rifle hunting for elk, but he has been known to go bird hunting at times and his children have taken to bow hunting. Despite being an elk hunter, Greg clearly has the utmost love and respect for animals as he shared his love of watching the elk and other wildlife that call the Castle Pines community home.