Commission Sets Big Game 2003 License Structure

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The Colorado Wildlife Commission on Jan. 9 approved the season structure for the 2003 big game seasons in Colorado, including more either-sex elk licenses for the first rifle season and an extra weekend for hunters in the second big-game rifle season.

"More either-sex elk licenses will be issued for the first season in place of bull licenses to increase the antlerless harvest," said John Ellenberger, the Division of Wildlife (DOW) big game manager. "The total number of first season licenses won't change dramatically because we want to continue to keep hunter density relatively low to ensure a quality hunt for those who obtain licenses."

Ellenberger said hunters with either-sex elk licenses will still be able to hunt for a bull, "but if they're unsuccessful after the first few days, they will still have the opportunity to kill an antlerless elk."

"Additionally, we need to increase the antlerless harvest to help bring the elk population closer to our population objectives," he said.

Colorado had more than 300,000 elk, more than any state or Canadian province and well above the Division?s population objective. Hunting is the primary management tool and DOW game managers make different types of licenses available to obtain the harvest needed to manage populations. The DOW has increased the number of antlerless elk license to reduce the size of the herd, but the herd remains well above objective.

"We will have a large number of antlerless elk licenses available for the upcoming big game season as well as an increased number of either-sex licenses," Ellenberger explained.

The second rifle season was lengthened increase from seven to nine days to give hunters the opportunity to hunt in two weekends rather than one.

"We had requests from hunters to make one of the seasons at least nine days so that it included two weekends," Ellenberger said.

The date for the 2003 deer and elk seasons are:
Archery - Aug. 30-Sept. 28
Muzzleloading - Sept. 13-Sept. 21
1st rifle season (elk only) - Oct. 11-Oct.15
2nd rifle season - Oct. 18-Oct. 26
3rd rifle season - Nov. 1-Nov. 7
4th rifle season - Nov. 8-Nov. 12

Hunters will also be able to obtain more than one deer, elk and pronghorn antelope license again this year providing at least one of the licenses is for a private land only hunt. In addition to private land only elk licenses, leftover limited antlerless elk licenses will also be available as second licenses.

For a detailed explanation, check the DOW's Web site at www.wildlife.state.co.us.

The Commission also approved a series of regulations that implement a memorandum of understanding between the DOW and the Colorado Department of Agriculture for the regulation and management of captive deer and elk. The regulations set specific requirements for disease testing, ranch fencing and movement of captive animals.