Elk licenses a tough find in Moffat County | CraigDailyPress.com

Elk licenses a tough find in Moffat County

Nate Waggenspack

According to data from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report, outdoorsmen and outdoorswomen in Colorado spent $1.3 billion and supported nearly 19,000 jobs in the state in 2011.

With hunting draws completed, leftover hunting licenses are now on sale, but not many are available around Craig.

In many game management units around Colorado, leftover licenses were still available in plentiful supply for bears, deer and elk as of Aug. 22, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife reports.

Hunting tags for elk in GMUs around Craig, however, have been scarcer. Local licensing agents have been selling tags, but not at the rate they are accustomed to, some said.

Leftover tags went on sale Aug. 14 and several area licensers made sales the first couple days, but have been mostly dormant since.

Samuelson True Value Hardware, 456 Breeze St., hasn't been doing much licensing business in the past week.

"We had a rush at the beginning, and then it's tapered down to pretty much nothing after that," store owner Mark Samuelson said.

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MJK Sales & Feed, 290 Ranney St., has been in a similar situation, due to not having as many late-season tags to offer.

"On the first day, we had a few and since then, not really," MJK sales associate Sarah Polly said. "I think it's because we got no late season cow tags. That's what people have been coming in and asking about, but we didn't get any.

"We didn't get late-season deer tags either. Usually we get quite a few, but this year there were none."

At Murdoch's Ranch & Home Supply, the experience this year has been similar.

"On the first or second day we actually did okay," Murdoch's clothing manager Wes Rogers said. "Deer and female elk are not on the list this year, and that's what a lot of people are interested in. Hardly any of them got a draw. It was not very big this year."

Many people were unsuccessful getting a tag to hunt late-season cows as a result of a smaller draw in many Northwest Colorado GMUs.

This is likely due in part to the Colorado Department of Wildlife coming closer to meeting its objectives for elk populations in Northwest Colorado.

DOW analyzes elk herd populations and sets objectives for sustainable population sizes based on those numbers and other factors like habitat and community input. Hunting is the main tool for meeting those objectives.

"Many areas up in the Northwest region we've met objectives with elk licenses for this year," said Mike Porras, Public Information Officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife Northwest Region. "It's likely that the number of licenses were met in many of those GMUs, so they aren't available on sale as leftovers."

Porras said when objectives are set and not met, the number of licenses can often increase. But as they come closer to meeting population objectives — or actually do meet them — it is natural for license quotas to go down.

According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife numbers, over 193,000 licenses were issued in Colorado for bear, deer and elk in the 2012 draw. That was over 2,000 less deer and elk licenses than were issued in draws in 2011.

"There was a time when we thought our elk populations in Northwest Colorado were over objective," Porras said. "If there are less licenses, that would be by design."

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“I think it’s because we got no late season cow tags. That’s what people have been coming in and asking about, but we didn’t get any. We didn’t get late-season deer tags either. Usually we get quite a few, but this year there were none.”

Sarah Polly, MJK Sales and Feed sales associate, about the low sales of hunting tags so far this season.