Wildlife commission lends ear to local group | CraigDailyPress.com

Wildlife commission lends ear to local group

Moffat County interest group protests DOW plan of limiting out-of-state hunters

Tyler Baskfield

At the Colorado Wildlife Commission meeting in Grand Junction a group of business owners from Northwest Colorado took center stage.

Members of different chambers of commerce in Northwest Colorado and business owners attended the commission meeting Thursday to express concern over the five-year policy plan released by the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW). The issue that inspired an organized effort by Northwest Colorado business owners is the possibility of changing seven game management units (GMUs) north of Craig to a draw area for hunters wanting to hunt both deer and elk. Also, talk of limiting the number of out-of-state hunters and changing the point-of-sale for licenses has the group concerned about the economic effect of proposed game management efforts.

The group fears negative impacts to local business that depend on high numbers of both in-state and out-of-state hunters during the fall.

The group cited the town of Dinosaur as an example of what can happen to a town if the number of hunters in the area decreases. GMUs surrounding Dinosaur have been a draw for some time and while the hunting in these units has improved, business has not.

Jim Simos, owner of Cashway Distributors sporting goods store in Craig, voiced concerns over the next five-year season proposal.

Simos, who originally wrote a speech to present to the Wildlife Commission, decided to abandon the speech at will.

“I told them that I had a speech prepared, but on the drive down to Grand Junction at 6 in the morning, as I was avoiding all of the deer, I decided to just plead for my economic life,” said Simos.

According to Pattie Snidow, Craig Chamber of Commerce board member, who represented seven chambers of commerce in Northwest Colorado, the group was well-received by the crowd at the meeting. It remains to be seen if the Wildlife Commission will take the testimonials into account while deciding the next five-year policy.

“The room was full,” said Snidow. “We got a huge response of applause from the people who attended. As far as the Commission they listened attentively, but whether they actually understand our issues and take them into account, we will have to see.”

On the other side of the issue is Mike Bauman, district wildlife manager, who doesn’t like what he is seeing taking place in the GMUs in question.

“The worst thing that can happen to the deer and elk is if things continue the way they are for the next five years,” said Bauman. According to Bauman the high numbers of hunters starting in archery and muzzle loading seasons quickly move animals down off the the national forests and onto private land below where the high numbers of successful harvesting is needed to keep the herds in check. The fact that herd numbers are extremely high makes it hard for people to understand the need to limit numbers of hunters.

“If we have a bad winter or two it could have devastating effects on the elk and deer,” said Bauman. “We need to figure out a way to increase hunter success and the answer isn’t to send more hunters into the woods.”