CPW gets feedback from local hunters on big game season structure
Over three dozen local sportsmen, as well as a few women, came together last week in Kremmling to talk big game hunting seasons as part of a quinquennial effort undertaken by state wildlife managers.
Each year, after the summer high tourism season ends but before the ski season begins, the mountainsides and river valleys of Grand County fill with hunters looking to bag big game. To hunt big game animals, such as elk, deer or moose, hunters must acquire a tag, or license, from the state for the specific species they are hunting.
Hunters are further restricted in their ability to seek out big game in both timing and geography. Most big game tags are for specific geographic areas, called game management units, and most tags require all hunting be performed between specific dates. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission sets the specific schedule of all big game hunting seasons in the state.
Every five years Colorado Parks and Wildlife reassesses and resets the schedule for big game hunting seasons. Last Thursday’s gathering of local hunters was an opportunity for the public to provide input to state officials regarding the schedule they would prefer to see for big game hunting seasons. District Wildlife Manager Jeromy Huntington and Area Wildlife Manager Lyle Sidener led the discussion.
The meeting included a brief presentation, made by Huntington, regarding how Colorado Parks and Wildlife manages big game species and how big game season structures and other factors are tools to manage those herds.
“This establishes the five-year plan,” Huntington explained. “It establishes what hunting opportunities will be available. It covers when and where they will be available and how they will be divided up among the methods of take. This is our process to help develop policy recommendations that go to the CPW Commission.”
Sidener echoed his sentiments.
“This is about how our seasons are aligned,” Sidener said. “How many rifle season will we have? How long will archery season be? What will be the breaks in between? We want to get a feeling for the pulse of the crowd.”
To gauge the local public’s opinion on various issues state officials conducted a real-time survey of attendees using an electronic voting system. Of the roughly 40 attendees who voted in the survey 50 percent were archery hunters, 43 percent were rifle hunters and seven percent identified themselves as muzzleloader hunters.
Over crowding during archery season was a point of concern for most attendees. Seventy-three percent of all archery hunters at the meeting expressed some level of concern regarding the issue with 27 percent stating they were “very concerned”.
On the rifle side of things there was a nearly even split amongst hunters who were satisfied versus dissatisfied very the current deer and elk season structures. In total 42 percent of rifle hunters expressed some level of dissatisfaction with the current season structure for deer and elk while 41 percent expressed some level of satisfaction.
Last week’s big game season structure discussion did not pertain to hunting seasons for bighorn sheep, mountain goats or mountain lions. The discussion also excluded any issues related to the preference points system for tag allocation or the resident versus non-resident tag allocation system.
“It is not part of what the commission is covering as part of the big game season structure,” Sidener said. “We are still willing to listen to your input and we can pass that along.”
Any hunters who did not attend last week’s discussion in Kremmling still have the opportunity to provide input to the state on the issue through February 4. State residents can provide input through an upcoming telephone town hall meeting, Monday night at 7 p.m. by calling 1-877-229-8493 and using the passcode 111956. Non-state residents can provide input at a separate telephone town hall meeting on Feb. 4 at 6 p.m. by calling the same number and using the same passcode.
Comments can also be submitted via an online comment form. To find the form go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife homepage. The five-year big game season structure page can be found on the website’s scrolling carousel.
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