Wednesday, February 14, 2001
Local wildlife officials finished an aerial count of elk and it appears the harvests for the year 2000 hunting season was successful.
Colorado Division of Wildlife area manager Jim Hicks recently conducted elk counts from a helicopter. He said he counted animals near the Elk River, in south Routt County, Trout Creek and around the local coal mines. Hicks said, from what he saw, the herds looked healthy.
Even if the hunting season was as successful as DOW officials believe, that doesn't mean a big difference will be seen in the elk population when the official numbers are calculated.
"We have a big population (of elk). It will take quite a few years of big harvests to change the population," Hicks said.
Officials estimated the number of elk in the northern regions of the Routt County and in Moffat County the Bears Ears Elk Herd was at 17,000 after the 1999 hunting seasons. That is about 5,000 more animals than the agency deems healthy for the herd and the environment. The elk population is determined by counting elk from a helicopter to attain a bull-to-cow ratio and a calf-to-cow ratio, DOW area manager Susan Werner said.
Then the agency does a sampling of 10 percent of the hunters in a given area to find out how many animals they killed. Together, biologists estimate how many animals were killed and how many calves were born to determine a population.
State wide, wildlife officials predict record harvest numbers.
"We expect that the harvest in the year 2000 will be the best ever," DOW spokesman Todd Malmsbury said.