Colorado DOW Considers Bear Den Regulations

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The Wildlife Commission will consider a new regulation to prohibit the take of bears in their dens and a petition to rescind a ban on dog walking at two northeast-region state wildlife areas during its January meeting.

Commissioners will also set 2011 license numbers for bighorn sheep and mountain goat finalize 2011 big game seasons and consider a host of changes to management of State Wildlife Areas as part of its annual review of Division properties. During the afternoon session, commissioners will consider proposals to manage predators to support Gunnison sage-grouse and desert bighorn conservation projects in southwestern Colorado.

The meeting was held Wednesday, Jan. 5, at the Colorado Division of Wildlife's Hunter Education Building ay 6060 Broadway in Denver. The meeting started at 8:30 a.m.

During the morning session, the Wildlife Commission will get a first look at a new den-hunting regulation drafted by Division of Wildlife staff following an incident this fall in which a potential state record black bear was taken by a licensed hunter while in its den. The incident has prompted a discussion about whether taking hibernating black bears in their dens is ethical, safe, or adheres to the concept of fair chase.

According to the 2010-2020 Strategic Plan adopted by the Wildlife Commission, the Division should look to maintain and increase support for wildlife management activities by emphasizing ethics, safety and fair chase in hunting, fishing and other wildlife programs. Although no regulations currently prohibit den hunting in Colorado, other states such as Pennsylvania and Michigan have adopted regulations to ban the practice. The proposed regulation is scheduled to receive a three-step review by Commissioners, who could approve a final rule in May.

Commissioners will also consider a petition from several hundred Loveland-area residents concerning the closure of two state wildlife areas to dogs except for active hunting, following a number of complaints from local citizens. The petition asks the Wildlife Commission to consider rescinding the new prohibition on dogs at Lon Hagler and Lone Tree SWAs, which they have argued was adopted without sufficient public input.

Commissioners will also get their first look at steps proposed by the Division to address public safety and user conflict issues stemming from unregulated access to Jumbo Reservoir along the lower South Platte as part of its annual review of Division properties. DOW staff is proposing to institute an annual "State Wildlife Area Permit" for Jumbo and possibly other nearby SWAs that would be required for everyone aged 19 to 64 that does not have a current hunting or fishing license. Division staff also recommends a prohibition on the possession and consumption of alcohol at Jumbo SWA.

The Wildlife Commission meets monthly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. In 2011, the Commission will meet in Salida, Grand Junction, Montrose, Alamosa, Steamboat Springs, Pueblo, Yuma, and Fort Collins and at a location to be determined in northwest Colorado. The first three meetings of 2011 will be held at the Hunter Education Building at Division headquarters in Denver.

Members of the public who are unable to attend Commission meetings or workshops can listen to the proceedings through a link on the DOW website. This opportunity is provided to keep constituents better informed about the development of regulations by the Commission and how they and DOW staff are resolving issues facing Colorado's wildlife.

To access the live audio feed during the meeting, click on the "listen to live audio" link at the bottom of the "Wildlife Commission" webpage at:http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeCommission/>

The complete agenda for the January Wildlife Commission meeting can be found on the Division of Wildlife's web page at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/WildlifeCommission/Archives/2011/Jan52011.htm The Colorado Wildlife Commission is an 11-member board appointed by the governor. The Wildlife Commission sets Division of Wildlife regulations and policies for hunting, fishing, watchable wildlife, nongame, threatened and endangered species. The Commission also oversees Division of Wildlife land purchases and property regulations.