Dear Karen and Geoff—
The EI–RMA pack llama ban is based on bad science and ulterior motives. I know because we have been fighting these occasional bogus bans for literally my entire life: I was born in 1978 and my family started packing with llamas recreationally in 1982. My family runs a small business that sells handmade halters, saddles, and pack gear for llamas and other smaller pack animals, and we have been involved in our regional organization, Rocky Mountain Llama and Alpaca Association, since its early days. We still pack recreationally with llamas, and I am the editor of a quarterly print magazine called Pack Animal (to which you now have a complimentary subscription).
The pack llama industry has unequivocally proven that pack llamas pose no unique threat to Dall sheep. Furthermore, pack llamas are perhaps the most environmentally-friendly pack animal out on the trails today: their padded feet do little damage to trails; they browse the vegetation, clipping it at the ground rather than pulling it up at the roots; they don’t require additional feed (which introduces invasive plant species into delicate ecosystems); their dung is nearly identical to that of deer; and because they carry less gear/weight, llamas and their packers typically travel light and leave a little impact, even on extended stays.
Please withdraw this pack llama ban as soon as possible so that llama packers can have just as much access to our public lands as the commercial horse outfitters.
llama packer and editor of Pack Animal Magazine, Golden, Colorado