Locals sound off

New hunting rules discussed at meeting

Despite the frigid weather and a midday meeting time, hunters, business leaders and politicians packed Shadow Mountain Clubhouse on Tuesday to discuss new hunting license allocation rules.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife scheduled the meeting so locals could provide input about license allocation rules that take effect in 2006.

State Rep. Al White, State Sen. Jack Taylor and state Wildlife Commissioner Tom Burke attended the meeting.

The new rules mean fewer licenses for out-of-state hunters and more for in-state hunters.

Business leaders and outfitters say cutting back on out-of-state licenses will hurt Northwest Colorado's economy.

But in-state hunters contend they deserve a better chance to hunt big game in Colorado.

The Colorado Wildlife Com--mission approved the new rules in October, but Burke said they could be amended in the future.

Under old rules, in-state hunters were given 60 percent of big-game licenses in the general draw.

Out-of-state hunters were given 40 percent. The old rules applied to the whole state.

Under the rules the commission approved last month, in-state hunters will receive 80 percent of the licenses in premier hunting areas. Premier hunting units require five or more preference points for an in-state hunter to draw a tag.

Out-of-state hunters will receive 20 percent of the licenses in premier units.

In units that require four or fewer points, the new split is 65 percent to 35 percent.

Statewide, the new rules would affect about 820 licenses, division spokesman Randy Hampton said.

The division's estimate is based on the number of licenses issued in recent years, Hampton said.

The division estimates the new rules will cost businesses in Moffat, Routt and Rio Blanco counties $162,000 in revenue next year.

Opponents of the measures say they aren't concerned about the immediate costs, but about how much the new rules will cost in the future.

"We're not going to cry the blues about that," said Craig Chamber of commerce director Annette Gianinetti. "We don't want this to get further out of hand."

White said before Tuesday's meeting that he was neutral about the new rules, but he later said he would like to see the Division of Wildlife revisit the rules.

"I think the citizens have made a good case against the division," he said.

Some local hunters were upset the division scheduled Tuesday's meeting for midday, when people had to work. Past meetings were held in the evening.

The meeting originally was scheduled for 7 p.m., Division of Wildlife officials said, but the time was changed to accommodate White's schedule.

Tim Monahan of Craig said he would have liked to attend Tuesday's meeting but that he had to work.

"Most of the people I know can't make it because we're all working," Monahan said.

Monahan supports the new rules, he said.

In-state hunters need more opportunities to hunt game, Monahan said. And some out-of-state hunters don't respect the region's people or the sport, Monahan said.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or bjohansson@craigdailypress.com.

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