Burlington, CO – The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission finalized 2012 regulations for turkey hunting, approved several fishing regulations for the coming year and rejected a citizen petition requesting the use of electronic calls in mountain lion hunting during their monthly meeting in Burlington.
Commissioners also approved changes to the state’s river outfitter regulations to permit a wider range of acceptable personal flotation devices by commercial passengers on regulated river trips during the two-day meeting and workshop, which was held at the Burlington Community Center on 340 South 14th Street in Burlington.
In addition, Commissioners honored Bonny Lake State Park Manager Bob Shade, who has been responsible for operations at the eastern plains recreational oasis for most of the past 25 years. During the past two years, Shade has served as Park Manager at Bonny Lake State Park and John Martin Reservoir State Park, 150 miles away on the Arkansas River. With Bonny Lake State Park closed due to the draining of the reservoir to satisfy Colorado’s obligation under the Republican River Compact, Shade has been reassigned to John Martin State Park. Commissioners presented Shade with an award for excellence in public service.
On Friday, commissioners heard a presentation on repurposing the former Bonny Lake State Park as a non-profit recreation and nature center from Pat Duran, the executive director of the Yuma County Economic Development Council. Duran said that the goal was to create a self-supporting regional recreational draw without the benefit of a large water body for boating and fishing. Following Friday’s workshop, Parks and Wildlife Commissioners were given a tour of the former state park facilities at the now-depleted reservoir.
In regulatory business, commissioners accepted a staff recommendation to reject a citizen petition that would have allowed mountain lion hunters to use electronic calling devices, which are currently banned for big game species. During Thursday’s morning session, commissioners said they were concerned about setting a precedent for big game hunting. Several also questioned whether electronic calls reflected the spirit of fair chase that the Parks and Wildlife Commission relies to guide development of hunting regulations. Colorado does allow electronic calls as an aid in hunting furbearers, crows and light geese during the late-winter light goose conservation order season. This information was incorrectly reported in several news articles.
Commissioners also adopted several changes in turkey regulations to increase hunter opportunity and aid in the management of wild turkeys on private lands that have begun to cause conflicts with agricultural producers. In 2012, wildlife managers will begin offering private land Over-the-Counter, late-season turkey licenses for beardless turkeys in Yuma and Lincoln counties. In Yuma County, unlimited fall private land either-sex turkey permits will also be offered. In addition, the commission approved limited spring and fall turkey licenses for Game Management Unit 512, which is the U.S. Air Force Academy property in El Paso County. Access will be controlled by the Air Force Academy.
November is the month when the commission adopts changes in fishing regulations. In response to a citizen petition, commissioners approved the use of archery equipment to take kokanee salmon during periods when snagging is allowed. Commissioners also adopted a daily bag limit for red-ear sunfish, increased the daily bag limit for lake trout at Williams Fork Reservoir and prohibited the take of northern pike with spear-fishing, archery or gigs at that same reservoir.
In other business, Commissioners approved a 3.6 percent Consumer Price Index adjustment for non-resident big game licenses.
During Thursday’s afternoon session, commissioners received a set of recommendations to improve the private landowner voucher program, which plays an important role in management of Colorado’s big game. More than 7 million acres is enrolled in the program, which encourages large private landowners to protect wildlife habitat and provide hunting opportunities.
John Smeltzer, of the Colorado Wildlife Federation and Bill Canterbury of the Colorado Cattlemens Association outlined the recommendations which have been developed over the past two years by a committee of landowners, sportsmen, outfitters and wildlife managers. The recommendations which include improving data collection on the program, reviewing enforcement policies and making changes in how licenses are allocated to private landowners. Commission chairman Tim Glenn of Salida said the voucher recommendations will be discussed at future meetings and the commission will solicit public testimony prior to taking action.
The complete agenda for the November Parks and Wildlife Commission meeting can be found on the Commission web page at:
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is a 14-member board appointed by the governor which sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s state parks wildlife programs.