Jan 20, 2010 9:46 AM by Associated Press
A new report by a conservation group says that large tracts of land in northwest Colorado that support the country's largest mule deer and elk herds are under lease for oil and gas drilling.
The Colorado Wildlife Federation says its report is intended to give the public and policymakers a look at how much wildlife habitat has already been leased and the risks to an important part of the state's heritage.
The report shows that leases have been approved on at least 40 percent of critical wildlife range. Many of the areas haven't been drilled.
Industry groups say only a small percentage of federal lands in the West has been leased. They insist that new state oil and gas rules and federal policies are hindering energy development.