In-state hunters will receive 80 percent of the hunting licenses in the state's premier big-game units, the Colorado Wildlife Commission decided Tuesday.
The decision means fewer licenses for out-of-state hunters -- something local politicians and business leaders say will hurt Northwest Colorado's economy.
CWC made the decision at its meeting in Salida.
Colorado Division of Wildlife Spokesman Tyler Baskfield said the changes will take effect next year.
Local leaders voiced concerns last week about decreasing the number of big game licenses given to out-of-state hunters.
On Monday, Moffat County commissioners sent a letter to the CWC urging it to consider the economic effects the change would have on Northwest Colorado.
Under the old rules, in-state hunters were given 60 percent of big game licenses statewide, and 40 percent went to out-of-state hunters. Under the new rules, in-state hunters will receive 80 percent of the licenses in hunting units that require five or more preference points. The four premier units in western Moffat County require more than five preference points.
In units that require four or fewer preference points, in-state hunters will receive 65 percent and out-of-state hunters will receive 35 percent.
Baskfield said the new rules will result in only 21 fewer elk licenses for the premier units in Moffat County, so the effect will be minimal.
"I don't think it is going to have a large impact on any specific local economy in the state," Baskfield said.
But Craig Chamber of Commerce Director Annette Gianinetti said she fears the decision will mean further cuts to out-of-state licenses down the road.
Out-of-state hunters tend to stay longer and spend more money when they come to Craig than in-state hunters, Gianinetti said.
Gianinetti commended the local business leaders who contacted the CWC to let it know their concerns about changing the split.
"We have to let (CWC) know how we feel so they understand how it effects us," Gianinetti said.