DOW hunts for process |

DOW hunts for process

Elk license rules may call for new allocation structure

Brandon Johnson

New hunting license rules could give private landowners and Colorado residents more elk licenses — at the expense of out-of-state hunters.

Landowners commonly sell the licenses, but some sportsmen say giving landowners more licenses results in only the wealthy being able to hunt the state’s premier elk habitat.

In the spring, the Colorado Division of Wildlife formed a committee made up of a variety of interested parties, including landowners, outfitters and sportsmen, to look at how the state allocates elk licenses.

Former Moffat County Com–missioner T. Wright Dickinson is a member of the 15-person committee.

The committee came up with a package of changes, including increasing licenses to private landowners, increasing licenses to Colorado residents and decreasing the licenses available to out-of-state-residents.

The committee will hold a public meeting in Craig on Aug. 4 to discuss the changes.

The Colorado Wildlife Com–mission will decide about the committee’s recommendations next month. The CWC has 11 members appointed by the governor, nine of whom vote on issues.

The DOW currently gives 15 percent of elk licenses statewide to private landowners before the general draw.

Private landowners must own land that provides wildlife habitat and reasonable hunting access to qualify for the licenses.

The changes would give private landowners 35 percent of licenses east of Interstate 25. In units 1, 2, 10 and 201 — all at least partially in Moffat County — private landowners would receive 25 percent of licenses available before the draw. In the rest of the state, private landowners would receive 18 percent of licenses available before the draw.

Colorado residents also would receive a higher percentage of available licenses under the proposed changes.

Under current rules, Colorado residents receive 60 percent of available licenses after the allocation to private landowners, and out-of-state hunters receive 40 percent.

If the CWC approves the committee’s recommendations, Colorado residents would re—-ceive 85 percent of the licenses east of I-25; 75 percent in units 1, 2, 10 and 201; and 67 percent in the rest of the state.

“I believe the package we’ve come up with is a fair package,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson said private landowners rely on selling licenses to supplement income from agriculture.

The Colorado Wildlife Fed–eration in Denver opposes the committee’s recommendations.

CWF executive director Wayne East said that if private landowners have a large portion of the state’s elk licenses and sell them to the highest bidder, the result will be a “hunting system for the rich.”

CWF vice president Kent Ingram, a member of the DOW’s license allocation committee, said he opposes the recommendations for a variety of reasons.

“The current system is not broke,” Ingram said. “We believe the current system works adequately for everyone.”

Ingram said giving more licenses to Colorado residents and landowners and less to out-of-state hunters will mean less tourism for Colorado.

“You reduce the number of nonresident (licenses), you’re going to reduce the income locally,” Ingram said.

DOW spokesman Randy Hamp–ton said that no matter how the DOW changes allocations, some parties will be upset.

“The problem is, they want a bigger piece of the pie, but the pie is not getting any bigger,” Hampton said.

Reaching a compromise is the reason for the committee and the public meetings, Hampton said.

The committee’s meeting in Craig is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at Shadow Mountain Village clubhouse, 1055 County Road 7 and is open to the public.

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