Extra elk hunt to cut population

Brandon Johnson

Hunters will have another shot to bag an elk this year when the season ends.

In an effort to minimize negative effects of Northwest Colorado’s elk herds on agriculture, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will conduct a distribution management hunt in December and January.

Regular rifle hunting season for elk ends Nov. 20, but wildlife managers hope the out-of-season hunt will help disperse the large herd of elk that congregates near Maybell.

Elk vs. agriculture

Dispersing the elk will minimize some of the conflicts between large elk populations and agriculture, including overgrazing and destroying fences, said Trevor Balzer, district wildlife manager for the area surrounding Craig.

The hunt also will help get Northwest Colorado’s elk population closer to where the division wants it.

According to the division’s statistics, there are about 60,000 elk in Northwest Colorado. The division wants that number closer to 40,000.

Participating hunters will only be allowed to shoot antlerless elk.

Hunt for females

“The best way to get at a population is to hunt the female side,” Balzer said.

The division also wants to save trophy bull elk for hunters during regular hunting seasons, Balzer said.

Hunters will be allowed to shoot bull calves, but most calves have antlers during the winter months, he said.

The division, in cooperation with the Northwest Colorado Habitat Partnership program, has been working with private landowners to conduct out-of-season hunts for the past few years.

The division doesn’t target a specific number of elk, Balzer said. Instead, it determines the hunt a success when a biologist deems the elk dispersion a success.

The hunt is open to the public.

Hunters should apply for the hunt between Nov. 14-28 at the division’s Craig Warehouse, 1715 N. Yampa Ave.

Hunters will be chosen from a hunt list established through two random drawings of applications.

Although there isn’t a requirement to participate, hunters will be called whenever the division deems it a good time to hunt. Hunters should be ready to hunt immediately when they’re called, Balzer said. If hunters aren’t ready, the division will choose another hunter on the list.

Hunters must apply in person at the division’s Craig warehouse between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Brandon Johansson can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or

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