More Deer and Elk Licenses Available

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The Colorado Wildlife Commission has approved more than 14,000 new antlerless rifle elk licenses and 2,500 new antlerless archery elk licenses for the upcoming big game season because of the lack of winter forage due to the ongoing drought.

The Commission also approved 1,060 new doe deer licenses for game management units in Middle Park and the San Luis Valley. The 2500 archery antlerless elk licenses will be sold at Division of Wildlife offices beginning Sept. 17. They are 'additional' licenses and can be bought in addition to an either-sex archery license. They are valid from Sept. 17-29 in the same units where a statewide archery elk license is valid.

The rifle elk and deer licenses will initially only be sold through the mail. Hunters must obtain an application from the Division's Internet site or at a Division office, complete the application and then mail it with the license fee to the Division. The list of units and license numbers also is posted on the Division's Internet site.

License applications for the rifle licenses will be processed beginning Sept. 17 in the order in which they were received. Any licenses left over after the mail in process will go on sale Oct. 1 at Division offices.

The rifle elk licenses will be available for many game management units in western Colorado and the San Luis Valley, where the drought is especially severe. Most of the licenses are for units where antlerless elk licenses are considered "additional," and can be purchased for a different season than the hunter's first license. The Commission also approved allowing hunters to purchase up to three licenses, as long as at least two of them are for cow licenses in "additional" license units. Nonresidents will pay $100 for a second or third "additional" cow elk license, with the first cow license remaining at $250. Residents will continue to pay $30 for an elk license as they have for more than a decade. No hunter may purchase more than one bull or either-sex elk license.

Colorado has more than 300,000 elk, the most of any state or Canadian province, which is well above the population objective of 240,000. The Division is encouraging hunters to harvest cow elk to help to bring the population closer to objectives. The ongoing drought has made the population reduction even more important.

"We need all the tools in place that are available before this winter to manage our elk and deer herds," said Division Director Russell George.

Division game managers from around the state recommended how many more elk and deer licenses should be made available in their areas based on population estimates and habitat conditions. Licenses will be valid only in specified units.

"I can't express to you the seriousness of the drought," said Wildlife Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos, whose family operates a ranch in Moffat County. "If we wait any longer to approve these licenses, I'm afraid it will be too late."

The Commission also approved a Division recommendation to prohibit the feeding of deer and elk in any areas where chronic wasting disease has been found. CWD is an incurable disease of deer and elk that researchers suspect may be spread through the saliva, urine and feces of infected animals. Feeding causes animals to concentrate, which could increase the risk of spreading the disease.

The disease has been found in a portion of northeastern Colorado along the northern Front Range and the South Platte River and in a single game management unit in southwestern Routt County.

For other areas of the state, a long-standing Division policy allows winter feeding of deer and elk to occur only in the most severe winters when more than 30 percent of adult females are expected to die.

In other action, the Commission:
-Prohibited the taking of pintail ducks in the Central Flyway after Nov. 17.
-Prohibited the taking of kokanee salmon in the Gunnison River from the standing water line of Blue Mesa Reservoir to the junction of Colorado Highway 149 and U.S. Highway 50.