Steamboat Springs The proposed sandhill crane hunting season in Northwest Colorado has been pulled off the table.
A spokesman for Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife said late Thursday afternoon that Northwest Regional Manager Ron Velarde had informed the members of the Parks and Wildlife Commission at their meeting in Craig that his staff would not be formally advancing the proposal to them.
“The staff took public comment and, obviously, they’ve received a lot of input, and it’s very clear the public is divided on this proposal,” Parks and Wildlife spokesman Theo Stein said. “There’s no decision that will be going forward.”
Stein said staff members, including wildlife biologists, continue to think that the proposed crane harvest would not have significantly impacted the population of the migratory waterfowl in Northwest Colorado. However, after hearing public input and concerns about how population data was gathered, the proposal will be pulled back.
A secondary consideration, Stein said, is that a new Parks and Wildlife Commission is due to be seated next month and it was thought that it wouldn’t be fair to the new members to move forward with the proposal.
The commission was to hear public comment during a second day of meetings in Craig on Friday. Stein said members of the public are still welcome to comment on the sandhill crane issue if they so choose.
Under the initial proposal, Parks and Wildlife officials had said that no more than 20 to 50 licenses with a limit of one bird per hunter would be granted to Routt and Moffat county hunters. The licenses already are allotted to Colorado but have been reassigned to other states because Colorado does not have a hunting season for cranes west of the Continental Divide.
The hunting season likely would have been timed with the beginning of waterfowl hunting seasons in late September, after most of the local cranes have headed south.
Strong local opposition to the proposal included the creation of an online petition that, as of Thursday afternoon, had been signed by 2,065 people.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com