Antelope, moose, sheep harvests high | CraigDailyPress.com

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Antelope, moose, sheep harvests high

There are approximately 60,000 antelope, also called pronghorn, in Colorado, which is about the number the Division is trying to maintain. Hunters killed 7,564 antelope in 2000, a 63 percent success rate.

Demand for hunting antelope in northwestern Colorado is high, requiring as many as 7 preference points to secure a license.

“In areas of the eastern plains, demand is not as high,” Ellenberger said. “But I recommend hunters secure access to private property before they even apply for a license.”

In eastern Colorado and in the San Luis Valley, there is a mix of private and public land that sometimes leads to conflicts between antelope and agriculture.

“In the early to mid-1990s there were too many antelope on the Eastern plains,” Ellenberger said; hence, the record harvest of 10,473 antelope in 1996 and 10,010 in 1997.

Colorado hunters killed record numbers of mountain goat and Rocky Mountain sheep in 2000, according to Colorado Division of Wildlife big game harvest numbers released last week.

Moose hunters enjoyed their highest success rate since 1995, but the state’s antelope population has been reduced to a number that is at or near the Division’s population goals, meaning fewer kills than in previous years.

Hunters bagged 192 mountain goats in 2000, a success rate of 91 percent. The Division of Wildlife estimates there are roughly 1,600 mountain goats in the state. Mountain goats were introduced to the state in the 1940s and again in the 1970s from Idaho and British Columbia.

Hunters have enjoyed a steadily increasing success rate for Rocky Mountain bighorn. The year 2000 was no exception. Hunters killed 193 Rocky Mountain bighorns, a success rate of 58 percent.

“In the 1970s, things looked grim for bighorn sheep,” Ellenberger said. They have increased to about 7,500 animals from 2,200 in the early 1970s. It’s a real success story,” Ellenberger said.

Sheep in Black Ridge, west of Colorado National Monument, are in decline, probably due to disease and predation by mountain lions.

In 2000, a record 8,273 hunters applied for licenses to hunt moose; only 85 were issued. The hunters who did receive licenses were successful 91 percent of the time, killing 64 moose, the highest success rate since 1992.

“They seem to be doing very well,” Ellenberger said of Colorado’s moose. “The biggest problem we have in managing moose is illegal harvest during deer and elk season.”

This occurs most often when hunters mistake moose for deer or elk.

Illegal moose harvests were unusually low in 2000. “Why this occurred, I don’t know,” Ellenberger said. “I can only speculate that deer and elk hunting was good enough that hunters didn’t shoot moose illegally as often.” (Submitted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife.)