Colorado Special Licenses Fund Many Wildlife Projects

Send by email Printer-friendly version Share this

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) and eight non-profit wildlife conservation organizations have selected more than $480,000 in wildlife projects that will be funded this year with proceeds from the sale of special auction and raffle hunting licenses in Colorado.

Each year several special hunting licenses are auctioned or raffled by non-profit wildlife conservation organizations to raise funds for wildlife projects. These special hunting licenses provide hunters with the opportunity to hunt in many areas around the state. Because these tags offer incredible hunting opportunities, the auctions and raffles generate considerable interest and income for wildlife projects.

Raffles are held annually by Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, Safari Club International, Ducks Unlimited, Mule Deer Foundation, Colorado Bowhunters Association, and the Colorado Wildlife Federation. Licenses are auctioned annually by Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, Mule Deer Foundation, Colorado Mule Deer Association, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Colorado Bowhunters Association.

Some of the auction and raffle projects funded this year include:

Rampart Range Bighorn Sheep Lungworm Treatment Study
The Rampart Range Bighorn Sheep Lungworm Treatment Study received $15,818 this year. This is the second year of funding for a long-term study on the effectiveness of two types of treatment for lungworm infection, a respiratory disease in bighorn sheep. Radio-collared ewes are split into three groups. One group gets an oral treatment. The second group gets injections. The third group, the control group, receives no treatment. Stool samples are collected from ewes to look for the presence of lungworm larvae to determine which (if any) treatment is most effective at reducing larval lungworm concentrations. Ewes are then monitored after they give birth to determine whether treating ewes during pregnancy improves lamb survival.

Pikes Peak Bighorn Sheep Population Estimation and Demographics
The Pikes Peak Bighorn Sheep Population Estimate and Demographics project received $46,468 in funding. This is the second year of funding for a study aimed at estimating population size and monitoring movements and survival of rocky mountain bighorn on Pikes Peak. In 2007, biologists estimated that the bighorn sheep population on Pikes Peak and surrounding areas was about 180 animals. Preliminary results indicate that individuals within the Pikes Peak sheep herd follow the same seasonal dispersal and regrouping patterns year after year. Members split into groups on a somewhat predictable schedule with the same individuals forming sub-herds each year.

Black Ridge Desert Bighorn Sheep Population Assessment
The Black Ridge Desert Bighorn Sheep Population Assessment and Monitoring project is a multi-year project intended to learn about the Black Ridge desert bighorn sheep herd near the Colorado National Monument. The assessment received $30,000 in funding. The project looks at factors including survival, lamb production and recruitment, causes of mortality, range and interaction with other herds. Funding will be used for capture of animals for radio-collaring, data analysis, and a technician to perform field work. The project has additional funding from the DOW, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep.

Poudre River Bighorn Sheep Population Estimate & Lamb Recruitment Study
The Poudre River Bighorn Sheep Population Estimate and Recruitment Study received $17,000. The project is in the fourth year of evaluating lamb recruitment, lamb survival and herd population size and performance. Beginning in January 2005, DOW biologists radio-collared a sample of ewes in the upper and lower Poudre Canyon. Data from these radio collared animals allow wildlife managers to estimate annual adult ewe survival, document seasonal movements, locate lambing grounds and monitor the presence and survival of lambs. Data gathered to date suggest a declining population canyon-wide, with pneumonia implicated in all recovered lamb mortalities from the lower canyon. In 2008, a nutritional, mineral and antibiotic treatment was applied to a small group of ewes in the lower canyon in hopes of improving lamb recruitment.

Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Range, Population and Survival Estimation
In 2006, DOW initiated a study utilizing radio collars to estimate population and survival for adult ewes and rams in the Georgetown bighorn sheep herd. These population parameters have been used, along with data from annual coordinated counts, to produce a population model similar to those used to guide the management of deer and elk in Colorado. This population model has proven useful in the management of the Georgetown herd and allows DOW to continue to estimate the size of the bighorn population beyond this study. The Georgetown study has also provided information on sheep movement, range, distribution, habitat use, and lamb dynamics. The focus of the study will shift in 2009 towards collecting more detailed and precise spatial information which is needed to mitigate the effects of human development and recreation in the area. The Georgetown Bighorn Sheep project received $46,630 in auction and raffle funding.

Flattops Moose Transplant Project
The goal of the Flattops Moose Transplant Project is to establish a self-sustaining, breeding moose population on the Flattops east of Meeker. Plans are being made to transplant moose from northern Utah to the Flattops. The initial project goals will include documenting seasonal movements, seasonal use areas and survival rates of translocated animals and documenting production and recruitment rates of female moose translocated to the Flattops. The project received $105,000 in auction and raffle funding and will result in an additional moose population in western Colorado.

Radium Habitat Improvement Project
The Radium Habitat Improvement Project received $10,000 this year. The primary objective of the project is to improve winter range for a variety of species along the Colorado River corridor in the Radium basin. Work includes reduction of pinyon-juniper encroachment, increasing of plant species diversity and vigor, increasing carrying capacity of habitat for deer and elk and work to recharge old water springs in the area.
The Radium Habitat Project partners have been working on habitat improvements in the area since 2001, conducting more than $100,000 in habitat improvements so far. This year's auction and raffle funds will be used in conjunction with funds from the Colorado Mule Deer Foundation and the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society, and labor from the Colorado Youth Corp and Mule Deer Foundation. A prescribed fire and habitat manipulation plan is in place through 2017 in conjunction with the Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service, DOW, Colorado State Forest Service and area land owners.

Basalt Lucksinger Fields Project
The Lucksinger Fields Project on the Basalt State Wildlife Area is designed to improve winter range habitat for deer and elk in the Roaring Fork Valley. These former hay meadows are being replanted and rehabilitated to provide beneficial habitat for big game and other species. The Roaring Fork Valley has rapidly developed over the past two decades and enhancing these fields will provided needed winter range. The project was provided $41,060 from auction and raffle funds.

HD Mountains Mule Deer Responses to Energy Development
Energy development in Southwest Colorado is increasing on mule deer winter range. A long-term research project in the HD Mountains has two primary objectives: to monitor mule deer behavioral and population responses to energy development; and to design and evaluate best management practices and mitigations in response to natural gas development. The HD project received $27,916 in auction and raffle funding and is a cooperative effort between the DOW, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. Approximately 140 mule deer have been captured and fitted with radio telemetry collars since 2004. VHF and GPS radio-telemetry collars allow biologists to evaluate deer movement and survival in areas prior to, during, and after energy development. Body condition of captured animals is measured in development and control areas.

Age Distribution of Hunter-Harvested Mule Deer Bucks
Because mule deer management strategies vary throughout Colorado, a study is examining management strategies and how they affect the age distribution of harvested bucks in three specific areas: the Gunnison Basin, the Uncompahgre Plateau, and the southern San Luis Valley. The study started in 2007 with a sampling of hunters in Game Management Units 54, 61, 62, 80 and 81. Hunters received letters requesting that they send in a tooth from harvested bucks. The teeth were examined at a laboratory in Montana to determine exact animal ages. The study will continue through the 2009 hunting seasons. The Age Distribution study received $13,000 in auction and raffle funding. Biologists are interested in evaluating whether there is an optimum buck-to-doe ratio which can maximize both hunt quality and hunter opportunity.

Light Hill Habitat Improvement Project
The Light Hill project will treat 537 acres of over-mature mountain shrub and pinyon-juniper on Light Hill in the Aspen area. The project, which received $25,000 in auction and raffle funding this year, is occurring on public land managed by the BLM. The thick and aged plants are difficult for wildlife to utilize and provide less forage for wintering big game animals.

With increasing development in the Roaring Fork Valley, big game winter range is extremely limited. Increasing the production and carrying capacity of existing winter range is the best alternative to provide for dwindling big game winter range. Providing quality winter range for deer and elk not only feeds the animals but helps keep them off nearby roads and private lands where they can cause crop and fence damage.

Organizations that auction or raffle licenses help rank and select projects funded. The organizations provide a majority of the auction or raffle proceeds to fund the wildlife projects. Some funds may be used by the wildlife conservation organizations to pay auction and raffle administrative costs and also to fund wildlife projects of the non-profit organization's choosing.