Point system may change

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The Colorado Division of Wildlife created the preference points system as a way to try to accommodate hunters.

Now, the DOW may rework the system -- but no changes will be made this season.

"There have not been any changes in preference points since last year. However, that being said, there is a group taking a look at license allocations and preference points," said Randy Hampton, DOW spokesman for the Northwest Colorado region. "We are in the process of taking public comment on modifications to preference points."

Under the current system, a hunter receives one point each year that he or she is not issued a license to his or her first-choice game management unit. The number of hunters requesting licenses for the Northwest Colorado region exceeds the number of limited licenses issued.

The more preference points a person accumulates, the better his or her chance of getting the first-choice game management unit the next year. But, Hampton added, the current system makes it difficult for new hunters to ever get their requests met.

For example, a hunter new to the Steamboat Springs or Craig area likely wants to hunt near his or her home. The hunter's request isn't met, and he or she gets a preference point, but so does his or her neighbor. The difference is that the neighbor has been in the preference points system for years. Each year, the number of preference points needed to earn priority increases, making it more difficult for newcomers to catch up.

Darby Finley provided some perspective about just how coveted select licenses can be. As a terrestrial biologist in the DOW's Meeker office, he monitors big game closer than most people in the country, not to mention that he works in one of the richest elk units in North America.

"I don't get that privilege," Finley said about hunting where he wants to. "I have to apply just like everybody else."

Although no changes are scheduled for the 2005-06 hunting season, public comment is being taken about the current preference points system. Hampton said the easiest way to submit public comment is through the DOW Web site at www.wildlife.state.co.us.

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