The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission finalized 2013 big-game hunting regulations at its meeting in Westminster on Thursday, Jan. 10 and Friday, Jan. 11.
The largest change in regulations from previous years is a modification to the late youth elk hunt program. Originally developed to help address overpopulations of elk on agricultural, private lands in western Colorado, the late youth elk hunting program is transitioning to continue offering hunting opportunity at a time when elk populations are being reduced to desired long-term levels. In 2013, youth with an unfilled limited cow or either-sex elk license will be able to hunt late seasons in the general area of their original license. While this is a restriction from larger late hunt areas allowed in the past, the commission and Colorado Parks and Wildlife remain committed to find innovative ways to get youth hunters in the field.
"Allowing youth to hunt late seasons has been very popular because the late seasons typically overlap the holiday breaks from school and that makes participation easier," said Rick Cables, Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "Given this change, we'll be looking for other ways to provide additional youth opportunity."
Youth big-game hunters interested in 2013 opportunities should closely examine the 2013 Colorado Big Game brochure that will be available at license agents and Parks and Wildlife offices in early February. The brochure will provide a map showing the changes as well as links for online information that will explain the late youth elk hunt in detail.
Commissioners also approved a proposal to extend the mountain lion season through the month of April. In the past, most units closed to hunting at the end of March. Mountain lion harvest in Colorado has been below harvest objectives in recent years and the extension of the season will aid in achieving the goals for harvest. Mountain lions are native to Colorado and biologists say the population in Colorado is robust and healthy.
Two issues brought forward through citizen petitions were heard by the Commission. During discussions Thursday, the commission asked Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff to work with Ouray, Hinsdale, San Miguel and San Juan Counties to address concerns about conflicts between state off-highway vehicle regulations and off-highway vehicle regulations in those specific counties. Commissioners moved to discuss the petitions further during a future meeting.
On Friday morning, commissioners denied four petitions seeking to overturn a sanctuary regulation that prohibits animals from the wild being taken into private possession. Commissioners expressed concerns about the petition requests for complete elimination of the regulation. The commission instead requested agency staff remain open to discussions with licensed sanctuary facilities and other stakeholders about how to best deal with rare situations that may require exceptions, while also making sure that issues of disease, private possession, animal welfare and public safety are properly weighed.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is an 11-member group appointed by the governor to provide public oversight for state parks, wildlife and outdoor recreation in Colorado. The commission meets monthly and travels to communities around the state to facilitate public participation in its processes. Thecommission is scheduled to travel to Greeley, Alamosa, Grand Junction, Walden, Gunnison, Trinidad, Montrose, Lamar and Pueblo in 2013.