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Hunting licenses may be lowered

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is considering lowering out-of-state hunting licenses because of a bad big game hunt this year and low hunter numbers.

Warm and dry conditions continued to hamper hunter success and wildlife officials are estimating that the total 2001 elk harvest could be one of the lowest in 10 years, according to a Colorado Division of Wildlife report.

Last year, hunters took 60,120 elk. This year, the harvest is expected to drop to about 40,000 animals.

The 2001 hunting season started on a promising note, with good harvests, but unfavorable weather didn't let up and pressure remained light.

With no snow to assist in tracking or to cover vegetation and force movement, elk in particular proved very difficult to find, say wildlife managers.

There were also fewer hunters tracking them down. Hunting pressure was significantly down from last year, especially for nonresidents, because of higher license fees and reports about bad weather, according to the DOW.

To lure nonresidents back in 2002, the Division is considering lowering out-of-state license fees for antlerless elk to about $250 the fee charged before the increase this year to $450. Wildlife officials also are considering allowing hunters to carry cow and bull licenses next year, unlike this year.

Final 2002 license fees will be discussed during a Wildlife Commission meeting in January.

Illegal outfitter charged with felony

DENVER A Denver man was charged with a Class Five felony for outfitting without a license in the Milk Creek Drainage west of Sleepy Cat Peak in Rio Blanco County. Michael Aragon was charged Nov. 20 with the felony for illegal sale of wildlife and with a misdemeanor for outfitting without a license. Both charges stemmed from a hunting trip the weekend of Oct. 13, the opening of the first rifle season.

The charges were filed in Rio Blanco District Court. Colorado Division of Wildlife officers discovered the activity while posing as hunters on horseback. If convicted, Aragon faces a minimum of a year in jail, fines and suspension of hunting privileges for a minimum of one year and up to life.

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