Craig briefs: Rocky Mountain National Park Service saves 17-year-old

About 5:30 p.m., Friday, Rocky Mountain National Park Service dispatch was notified about a stranded climber in the Lumpy Ridge area of Rocky Mountain National Park.

A 17-year-old female from Estes Park was climbing with friends. Another juvenile friend called dispatch from a cell phone and reported that the female was 200 feet above the ground and unable to climb up or down.

She had no climbing equipment and was wearing a T-shirt and leggings. The group was unable to specify the exact location.

Park staff asked for assistance from the Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department to use spotlights to illuminate the Twin Owls area of Lumpy Ridge to try and locate the climber.

She was located on lower Twin Owls, 200 feet up on the route known as Organ Pipes.

Park staff arrived above her at 7:10 p.m. They lowered a park rescue person to her location, reaching her at 7:25 p.m. He secured her with climbing equipment and gave her warmer clothing.

Park staff lowered both to the ground, taking approximately eight minutes. She was able to walk out with park staff, and they reached the Lumpy Ridge Trailhead at 9:30 p.m.

She was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center for further evaluation.

About 15 park staff were involved in addition to other agencies including Estes Park Volunteer Fire Department, Estes Park Police Department and Estes Park Medical Center.

Park staff reported this was "truly a life saving rescue."

Because of her age, her name was not released.

Big game season dates, '09-10 regulations OK'd

The Colorado Wildlife Commission approved big game season regulations for the 2009 seasons during its January meeting.

These regulations include annual big game hunting season dates, the application and drawing processes, Game Management Unit boundaries, manner of take provisions and other management policies for deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, moose and bear.

In addition, limited license numbers were finalized for bighorn sheep and mountain goat.

Several of the changes made for the 2009 big game seasons will provide additional opportunities for hunters.

Moose hunting will take place on the Grand Mesa for the first time during the upcoming season. This opportunity was made possible by a moose transplant operation that began in 2005.

Using sportsmens' dollars and with support from Safari Club International, moose from Utah were transplanted to the Grand Mesa. The moose population on the Grand Mesa is estimated to be between 120 to 150 animals.

In addition, all successful moose hunters in all moose units in the state now are required to complete a mandatory check of their harvested moose at a Division office.

Although ewe bighorn sheep hunting will be suspended in the Pikes Peak Data Analysis Unit S-26 (west of Colorado Springs) and Dome Rock Data Analysis Unit S-46 (near Gunnison), new bighorn sheep units were established in Glenwood Canyon (east of Glenwood Springs) and the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area, providing additional opportunity for bighorn sheep hunters this coming year.

The bighorn sheep population in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area is the result of a transplant operation that took place in 2005. Sportmens' dollars and support from the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society helped move 40 Bighorn sheep from the Forbs Trinchera Ranch to the area.

The population has grown to 55.

A white-tailed deer only season was established in Data Analysis Unit D-46, increasing the deer hunting opportunity on the southeastern plains.

Youth hunting and late season pronghorn hunting was expanded in Data Analysis Units PH-5, PH-6, PH-7 and PH-8 (southeastern plains), including the establishment of a new December hunt. Youths with an unfilled doe or either-sex pronghorn license will be allowed to use their license to hunt during the new December season in these DAUs.

Seniors who receive a free fishing license now will be exempt from paying a fee for big game preference points the following year.

As a result of a citizen petition, the Commission extended the shed antler collection closure in the upper Gunnison River basin. Shed antler collection on public lands in GMUs 54, 55, 551, 66 and 67 is closed from Jan. 1 through March 14 annually.

In addition, the existing closure of March 15 through May 15 has been modified and will only be in effect from legal sunset through 10:00 am during that period.

The Commission implemented an experimental season-choice antlerless deer license in GMUs 91, 92 and 96 (in the northeast portion of the state), which will allow a license holder to continue to use their license through all applicable seasons in those units until the license is filled.

Season dates and manner of take restrictions still will continue to apply.

The Commission voted to change the season dates for late season Private Land Only elk licenses in Game Management Unit 61 (north of Nucla) to Dec. 19 to Jan. 17.

The decision to make the season later in the year was based upon public comment received by the Commission.

Division of Wildlife staff presented the Commission with information relative to the Five-Year Review of Big Game Season Structure. This meeting's presentation focused on ways to provide extended opportunity to hunters during the 2010-2014 big game seasons.

The Commission directed staff to further develop several ideas, which would allow hunters to buy more "additional" licenses for the same species and extending the validity of an unfilled license into an additional season.

Public testimony also was heard by the Commission.

Division of Wildlife staff presented the Commission with draft regulations pertaining to the state listing status of the bald eagle. Final regulations to delist the bald eagle as a state threatened species will be voted on by the Commission at the March meeting. The bald eagle recently was delisted from the federal endangered species list.

Draft regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitators, including license and training requirements, were also presented to the Commission. These regulations will be up for final adoption at the March Commission meeting.

The Wildlife Commission and the Colorado Agriculture Commission held a joint meeting Tuesday morning in an effort to discuss important issues to both agencies. The topics included feral hogs, oil and gas regulations and game damage issues.

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