By now if you applied for a limited big-game license in the limited-license drawing, you should have received either the license or refund in the mail. Last year the limited-license section in our Denver office processed more than 400,000 license applications. This year's application rate was down about 50,000, but with the increase in nonresident license fees and the uncertainty with the economy, that wasn't surprising.
The second drawing for unsuccessful applicants will take place July 21 and 22. After that drawing the list of leftover licenses will be posted on the Division of Wildlife Web site at www.wildlife.state.co.us. Information will also be available at local DOW offices.
If your interest is fishing, there will be an anglers roundtable meeting July 25 at the Carpenter Ranch east of Hayden. Fisheries biologists from the Division of Wildlife will be available to answer questions about local fish-management issues. There has been a lot of local interest lately in the DOW's policies and objectives concerning nonnative fish in the Yampa River. Agency personnel who are working on the native fish recovery efforts on the Colorado River system will be available to discuss that program and how we can expect that to affect sport fishing on the Yampa. The meeting will start at 6 p.m. at the Carpenter Ranch.
On the black bear front, things have been relatively calm this summer. There have been a handful of bear sightings and problems where they normally occur around town, but nothing significant. Unfortunately spring and early summer freezes may have significantly affected some of our berry-producing shrub species like chokecherry and serviceberry. If the fall fruit crop is diminished, we can expect to see increased bear problems in late summer and fall when bears are bulking up for the winter. If you live in areas frequented by bears, you need to be vigilant about not leaving things about that will attract them to your property.
A bill recently passed in the Colorado Legislature will limit the DOW's liability in cases of big-game damage. The state's liability will now be focused more toward instances of damage to agricultural products. The tab last year for game damage paid by the DOW was more than $800,000. That amount was significantly higher than normal and primarily a result of drought conditions experienced across the state that led to increased incidents of bear damage.
Unfortunately, we're experiencing similar conditions this summer and we should expect to see increased bear problems as we get closer to the end of summer and fall.