The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will finalize 2013 big-game hunting regulations when the Commission meets in Westminster on Thursday, Jan. 10 and Friday, Jan. 11.
The meeting will be held at the Doubletree Hotel, 8773 Yates Drive, beginning at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday. A full agenda is available online at http://wildlife.state.co.us/SiteCollectionDocuments/DOW/Commission/2013/Jan/Agenda.pdf.
On Thursday, Commissioners will review more than 40 proposed changes to big-game regulations. The most prominent proposed change would further reduce the areas allowed for youth late-season elk hunting. The successful late youth elk hunting program has put thousands of young hunters into the field since its inception. Originally developed to help address overpopulations of elk on agricultural, private lands in western Colorado, the program is transitioning to continue offering hunting opportunity at a time when elk populations have been reduced to desired long-term levels. If approved by the Commission, late youth elk hunters in 2013 will be able to hunt late seasons in the general area and method of take where their unfilled limited cow or either-sex elk licenses are originally valid, instead of the larger areas allowed during the 2012 seasons.
“This is an issue hunters will want to be aware of as they prepare for next year’s license draw,” said Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. “Hunters planning to hunt with youth hunters next year should check the Colorado big game brochure when it comes out in February for a synopsis of changes the Commission might approve.”
Other changes proposed for big-game hunting include regulation changes to allow for better disease monitoring of harvested bighorn sheep as well as a proposal to establish a mountain lion hunting season during the month of April. Most of the additional changes are to specific hunting areas to adjust hunting harvest in accordance with herd management goals.
Thursday’s agenda also includes a citizen petition seeking to allow Hinsdale, Ouray, San Miguel and San Juan Counties to enforce off-highway vehicle rules that are stronger than current Colorado Park and Wildlife OHV regulations. Commissioners will also discuss potential regulations for stand up paddleboards in Colorado. Representatives of Shikar-Safari Club International will present the 2012 Officer of the Year award for a Colorado wildlife officer.
Thursday afternoon, Commissioners will be briefed about mule deer management issues in western Colorado. Mule deer populations have been declining in the western United States and Colorado Parks and Wildlife is planning a significant effort with stakeholders to address declines in the state.
Friday’s agenda begins with several citizen petitions requesting Commission review of wildlife sanctuary regulations. Colorado wildlife regulations stress that wild animals belong in the wild and rules currently prohibit individuals from taking wild animals into private possession. Exceptions exist for licensed wildlife rehabilitators, who must rehabilitate sick and injured animals for return to the wild.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks and wildlife programs. The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission meets monthly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. The commission is scheduled to travel to Greeley, Alamosa, Grand Junction, Walden, Gunnison, Trinidad, Steamboat Springs, Montrose, Lamar and Pueblo in 2013.
Members of the public who are unable to attend Parks and Wildlife Commission meetings or workshops can listen to the proceedings online. To access the live audio feed during the meeting, click on the “listen to live audio” link at the bottom of the commission webpage at: http://wildlife.state.co.us/ParksWildlifeCommission/Pages/Commission.aspx.
Image courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife