Higher Bull Tags; Lower Cow Tags
In an effort to reduce Colorado's burgeoning elk herd, the Wildlife Commission lowered the price nonresidents will pay for cow licenses and allowed all hunters to purchase up to two elk licenses over most of the Western Slope so long as at least one of them is an antlerless license.
Nonresidents will pay $250 in 2002 for cow licenses compared to last year's $450 price. The price of a bull license will increase from $450 to $470 to keep pace with inflation. The cost for either-sex licenses will remain $470. Colorado residents will continue to pay $30 for both cow and bull elk licenses. These licenses can be purchased along with any additional licenses.
"Our statewide population objective is about 180,000 elk and our post-hunt count this winter will probably find the population is closer to 270,000," said John Ellenberger, the Division of Wildlife's big game manager. "We issued 190,000 antlerless elk licenses last year, the most ever, because we needed to kill as many elk as we did in 2000 when we had a record harvest of 60,000."
Poor hunting conditions, economic recession and a dip in the number of nonresident hunters resulted in a harvest well below the 2000 record. Issuing more licenses would likely have little impact since there were 6,000 elk licenses that were never sold last year, Ellenberger explained.
He and other game managers recognized that additional steps were needed to increase the elk harvest.
"If we only increased the number of licenses without making them 'additional' and without recruiting more hunters through lower prices, we wouldn't get the job done," Ellenberger said.
Wildlife managers are hoping the price reduction will lure nonresidents back to the state and encourage all hunters to considering harvesting a cow. Last year, approximately 40 percent fewer nonresident hunters participated in the big game seasons as compared to previous years. The price of a nonresident elk license increased to $450 in 2001 from $250 in 2000. The price of a resident elk license has remained at $30 for more than a decade.
In an effort to reach deer population objectives, the Commission agreed to sell leftover buck deer licenses rather than destroy them as was done last year. Hunters will also be able to harvest two does with one limited or special antlerless deer license in selected units. Elk hunters who participate in the fourth season and do not have the option of hunting deer in their unit will be allowed to hunt deer in a different combined season. All valid deer units are open for these hunters.
Other new regulations for 2002 include:
- Mandatory checks for mountain goats, bighorn sheep and bears must be completed within five working days of harvest.
- The use of smokeless powder is now prohibited during muzzle-loader big game seasons.
- The Division was given authority to issue special management licenses for bighorn sheep and mountain goats in an effort to prevent the spread of animal disease and unplanned expansion of sheep or goats outside established game management units.
- Instead of physical game checks, moose hunters are now required to complete a harvest questionnaire and submit it to the Division within 30 days after the close of their hunting season.