Big Changes for Gunnison Colorado Elk Hunters

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Gunnison elk hunters will see significant regulation and license changes for the 2010 big game seasons. Two groups--archery hunters and second-season rifle hunters--are affected most by changes to license allocation and should plan carefully before arriving to the Gunnison area this fall.

"We want to make sure hunters accustomed to purchasing over-the-counter elk licenses are aware of these changes well before the start of the seasons," said J Wenum, DOW area wildlife manager for Gunnison. "We don't want hunters showing up here realizing they cannot purchase licenses or that licenses have been sold out."

Beginning this year, archery hunters can no longer purchase over-the-counter licenses for Game Management Units 54, 55 and 551. All Gunnison archery licenses are allocated by the limited drawing only for the 2010 season. Therefore, bow hunters must participate in the spring drawing and have applications submitted prior to the April 6 deadline to obtain licenses for these Units.

In addition, the Division of Wildlife is planning to reduce archery elk licenses approximately 30 to 50 percent for the upcoming season based on guidance already given by the Wildlife Commission. The 2010 license allocation is based on a three-year average of license sales during the 2007-09 seasons.

Second-season rifle hunters will also see a change in license allocation in Unit 54. Similar to previous years, hunters may purchase over-the-counter elk licenses, but licenses will be "capped" and limited in quantity. Licenses are sold on a first-come, first-served basis beginning July 13 at statewide DOW offices and license agents, and online on the DOW Web site.

Approved last year under the Five-Year Review of Big Game Season Structure, the Colorado Wildlife Commission implemented these changes to improve hunter harvest rates and to bring overpopulated Gunnison elk herds closer to objective.

During the past several years, the number of archery hunters has increased significantly in the Gunnison Basin. Increased hunting pressure has caused an early movement of elk into sanctuary areas--private ranches and wilderness areas--making animals inaccessible to both archery hunters and rifle hunters later in the season.

Wildlife managers are optimistic that reducing early season hunting pressure will improve overall hunter success and help to lower elk populations.

"Overall, these changes should provide expanded opportunities for rifle hunters to harvest antlerless elk," said Wenum.

For a list and explanation of all 2010 Gunnison Basin big game regulation changes, please visit the following link.