DOW license proposal irks some hunters

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife is considering changing how it allocates hunting licenses to private landowners, Colorado residents and out-of-state hunters.

The DOW formed a committee last spring to address the issue.

Under the committee's recommendations, private landowners would receive 25 percent of the available licenses in four of the state's premier hunting units.

Those four units -- 1, 2, 10 and 201 -- are all at least partially in Moffat County.

But some hunters have a problem with giving more licenses to landowners, who commonly sell the licenses for thousands of dollars.

About 80 people attended a public meeting Thursday at the Shadow Mountain Clubhouse in Craig to discuss the issue.

"The cost of hunting is getting up into where it's going to be a rich man's sport," Gregg Smith of Moffat County said after Thursday's meeting.

Smith said giving more licenses to private landowners will make it harder for average hunters to afford to hunt the state's premier hunting terrain.

Former Moffat County Commissioner T. Wright Dickinson, who sat on the DOW's committee, said private landowners rely on the licenses to offset the costs of having wildlife on their lands.

"I'm mindful of people's concerns," Dickinson said. "But I also understand how much it costs to maintain this resource."

He said if private landowners didn't manage their land for wildlife, Moffat County's hunting economy wouldn't be what it is today.

"The wildlife resources we have in this county would not be possible but for the private landowners," Dickinson said.

Under the committee's recommendations, Colorado hunters like Smith will have access to more elk tags in units 1, 2 10 and 201. Out-of-state hunters will see a decrease in available tags. The state currently gives 60 percent of licenses available after the landowner allocation to in-state hunters and 40 percent to out-of-state hunters.

The committee recommends changing that to give 75 percent to in state hunters in units 1, 2, 10 and 201 and 67 percent in the rest of Colorado west of I-25.

Craig Chamber of Commerce executive director Annette Gianinetti, who attended Thursday's meeting, said she opposes drastically cutting back the number of licenses available to out-of state hunters because they are such a boon to the economy.

"We want to keep the allocation high, especially for out-of-state hunters," Gianinetti said.

The DOW will present the committee's recommendations to the Colorado Wildlife Commission next week. The CWC is expected to issue a decision based on the recommendations and input from public meetings sometime in October or November.

Mike King, DOW policy and regulation section manager, said some of the changes could go into effect for the 2006 hunting season.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031 or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com

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