Changes to hunting regulations coming

Wildlife Commission changes face of big game hunting in 2000

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The Colorado Wildlife Commission made changes to regulations for the 2000 big game hunting season at its meeting in Denver earlier this month.

The commission decided to amend the regulation concerning firearms on off highway vehicles (OHV). The regulation requires that firearms being carried on OHVs during hunting season be cased.

The regulation states that all bows and firearms, except pistols, carried on an OHV by hunters during hunting season must be carried in an enclosed case with no open ends. Ranchers, while hunting predators, are exempt.

According to Kathi Green, spokeswoman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, the regulation change addresses concerns of people trying to protect their stock from predators.

"This change addressed concerns that the regulation would unnecessarily restrict agriculture producers' ability to control depredating wildlife during these seasons on their land," said Green.

Also in the 2000 season changes, there will no longer be leftover either-sex deer or private land only (PLO) either-sex elk tags.

Antler point restrictions for buck deer have been removed. Deer licenses are valid during the length of the season. In previous years, the validity of deer licenses did not extend through the big game season and some units had a three-point restriction. This restriction allowed hunters to only take buck deer with three or more points. Now, when a deer license is purchased, that hunter will be able to hunt continuously through the season that he or she chooses to hunt and a buck deer with any number of antler points will be allowed for harvest.

According to Shami Pearson, DOW spokeswoman, lifting these restrictions is not due to any recovery of the mule deer population.

"What our biologists found is that there really wasn't a big change to the buck-to-doe ratio," said Pearson. "We didn't want to restrict hunters if it wasn't making an improvement."

Youth hunters will have an extra opportunity to harvest an elk in 2000. The commission approved a late youth elk hunt. Children ages 12 to 15 can use any unfilled antlerless elk license in any unit that has a late or private land only antlerless elk season, Nov. 16 through Jan. 31, 2001. They will be required to have a mentor over the age of 18 who has taken a hunter education course. The mentor will not be allowed to hunt, unless he or she has a valid license for the unit where hunting.

The DOW also wants to remind hunters that starting this year the big game season structure includes four regular rifle seasons rather than three. The first limited rifle season is elk-only and will run Oct. 14-18. An application is required for the first season. The second, third and fourth seasons Oct. 21-27, Nov. 4-10 and Nov. 11-15, respectively are combined deer and elk seasons. In the fourth rifle season, deer hunting will be limited to selected units.

The Wildlife Commission also will consider restricting the proportion of limited deer and elk licenses that will be issued to nonresidents to no more than 40 percent for any hunt beginning in 2001.

Colorado residents may pick up a copy of the 2000 big game brochure at any DOW office or licensing agent beginning in March. Application deadline for draw-only licenses is April 4.

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