CPW develops pronghorn management plan for Middle Park
From the high peaks of the continental divide to the picturesque mountain streams and rivers of our region, Grand County abounds with natural wonders.
Among our most cherished natural resources are our majestic wildlife. Powerful and beautiful animals like moose, bear and mountain lion call Grand County home and massive, awe inspiring herds of elk and deer can be found in Middle Park.
The region is also home to one of the west’s most iconic creatures, pronghorn, or as they are often colloquially known “antelope”; though ironically pronghorn are not actually a member of the antelope family and are not related to the multiple species of antelope found in Africa and Asia.
There are about 800 pronghorn in the Middle Park area, roughly one percent of the state’s population of about 80,000, which are concentered on the eastern plains. This year officials from Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s (CPW) Hot Sulphur Springs field office are working to develop a new management plan for pronghorn in Middle Park.
The state agency reviews and updates management plans for big game animals periodically, roughly once a decade. The last time Middle Park’s pronghorn herd management plan was updated was 1999.
Beginning in late June CPW held a series of public meetings in Kremmling, Granby and Yampa. Parks and Wildlife continues to seek additional public input regarding citizen opinions on how pronghorn should be managed in Middle Park, with a specific eye for herd population targets and quality metrics such as doe to buck ratios.
If you would like to provide your own input on the developing management plan for pronghorn you can still have your voice heard. Parks and Wildlife has a brief survey for the public, which includes four questions and a comment section. The survey can be found by going to http://www.research.net/r/PH37_Pronghorn_Survey.
Moving forward officials from CPW will develop a draft management plan, which they hope to have ready in the coming months. Kirk Oldham, CPW Wildlife Biologist based out of Hot Sulphur Springs, said the draft plan will be posted to CPW’s web site, to allow for public review, after it is completed. After the draft plan has been presented the public will once again be offered an opportunity to provide input and comments regarding the new management proposals.
After further reviewing public input on the draft management plan CPW officials will develop a final draft plan which will be presented to the state’s Parks and Wildlife Commission for approval. Once the Commission approves the plan the new management plan will go into effect for the following hunting seasons.
Oldham was hesitant to provide an exact timeline on when CPW believes the new management plan will go into effect. Officials from CPW hope to have the process completed and the new management plan in place for the 2017 hunting season, though there is no guarantee.
The new management plan developed by CPW could look strikingly similar to the current management plan utilized by the agency for the Middle Park pronghorn herd. “We could adopt previous objectives,” Oldham said. “It is not necessarily anything new.”
The management plans for pronghorn take a number of factors into account. “We have to have plans that are scientifically based on what the habitat can support,” said Oldham. “Also, what is socially and politically acceptable. Based on the attitudes and opinions from the public on these surveys we will be able to direct our plan.”
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This story is updating as more information becomes available