Beetle-killed lodgepole pines, development in winter range and changing recreational use are all factors
SUMMIT COUNTY — The Colorado Division of Wildlife is looking at possible changes in the management objectives for local elk herds, and the agency wants some public input. Several meetings have been scheduled, including a July 8 session Frisco (6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the County Commons Mt. Royal Room).
The new plan will will guide elk management in the area, encompassing Breckenridge, Dillon, Frisco, Granby, Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs, Kremmling, Silverthorne, and Winter Park. The area produces tremendous hunter opportunity by being open to over-the-counter bull elk hunting during archery season and the second and third rifle seasons. Large numbers of limited licenses are also available for muzzleloader and other rifle seasons.
Changes to elk habitat may require some revisions of the Division of Wildlife plan.
The plans (for these areas) were last updated in the 1990s,” said Kirk Oldham, the division’s terrestrial Biologist for the area. “Reviewing herd objectives will need to address changes in the area including habitat changes because of mountain pine beetle, increasing development on winter range and changes in recreational use of these lands in the last 20 years.”
“Herd size is a function of biology, but it is also a function of what the public desires for a population,” added Ron Velarde, regional manager for northwest Colorado. “While the DOW is well-suited to make biological decisions, we need public input to determine if larger or smaller herds would be acceptable.”
Sportsmen, outfitters, business owners and landowners all have a vested interest in the big game populations in an area. Sportsmen may want larger herds for increased hunting opportunity. Outfitters and hunting-tourism dependent businesses like hotels and restaurants may want increased hunting opportunity that brings more hunters to an area. Landowners may want decreased herd sizes to limit damage to crops and fences.
Anyone interested in elk management in these areas is welcome to provide comments to the Division of Wildlife. Draft plans and alternatives will be explained at the public meeting and can be found on the Division’s website .
A short survey about the elk herds is also available. Comments and completed surveys must be submitted by July 16 to the Division of Wildlife’s Hot Sulphur Springs office at P.O. Box 216, Hot Sulphur Springs CO 80451.
The management plans are based on wildlife management principles and public input and are revised approximately every 10 years. To aid the public in discussion, several management alternatives will be presented at the public meetings. The alternatives cover increasing or decreasing overall herd size and male-female ratios or leaving the population and gender objectives at their current levels. The benefits and drawbacks to each alternative will be presented at the meetings.
Kremmling – Tuesday, July 6, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the CSU Extension Hall
Frisco – Thursday, July 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the County Commons – Mount Royal Room
Granby – Friday, July 9 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Granby Library