Group to adopt hunting changes

Wildlife commission considers changes to big-game season

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Fewer hunting licenses may be available to the public for certain game management units in Northwest Colorado if the Colorado Wildlife Commission adopts final proposals at its meeting this week.

The Commission will consider final adoption of big-game season changes at its meeting Thursday and Friday in Denver.

Game management units 4, 5, 441 may be designated as limited license units during archery and muzzleloading season for deer and elk. These three units are located in Northwest Colorado in the Black Mountian area. In 1999, any archery or muzzleloading hunter could buy an over-the-counter license for these units. The proposals would make licenses for the units available only through a drawing.

Moffat County Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos and a member of the Wildlife Commission, isn't sure how she will vote on the issue. She points to a similar change in regulations in the White River area.

"They haven't seen all of the scientific data, but from what they can see it has been a success," said Raftopoulos. "It is an attempt to limit the movement of the elk before the rifle seasons."

The commission will also consider whether to approve a change to the Ranching for Wildlife program, which may also change license numbers for the area.

According to Shami Pearson, public information specialist for the Division of Wildlife (DOW), the Wildlife Commission may decide to limit the number of DOW-issued ranching for wildlife licenses to residents only. In the past, ranchers participating in Ranching for Wildlife receive a number of licences to issue as many as 99 percent of these licenses go to non-residents. The DOW also has Ranching for Wildlife licenses that are issued through a drawing.

According to the DOW, between 40 and 45 percent of licenses drawn through the regular, statewide drawing go to non-residents. The rate of Ranching for Wildlife licenses that go to non-residents is higher than that average.

Due to complaints from resident hunters, the Wildlife Commission is considering limiting the Ranching for Wildlife drawing licenses to residents only.

"Resident have been asking us to make it fair," said Pearson. "They are asking us to limit public licenses to residents only. We have received pressure from residents to do this."

Raftopoulos said she is not in favor of this change to the regulations. A telephone conversation with a man from Texas convinced her that non-residents need to utilize these licenses also.

Waterfowl regulations for the 2000-2001 season may also be finalized.

Possible changes to the waterfowl regulations include allowing the unlimited take of light geese from March 7-31 and use of electronic calls from March 1-31. These changes come after President Bill Clinton signed the Arctic Tundra Habitat Emergency Conservation Act. The act stresses the reduction of the rapidly increasing mid-continental snow goose population due to its impact on agricultural crops and habitat in the arctic.

Bighorn sheep and mountain goat season dates and license numbers will also be considered for adoption.

The future of the lynx recovery program future will be decided by the Commission. The Commission will be given an update on the success of the program and will decide whether to release 50 more lynx in Colorado next spring.

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