Letter: DOW required to aid property owners

A bill has been passed that when private property owners sustaining damage from wildlife ask for help from the Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW), the DOW is required to respond. Property owners need to know that they can file claims under this new law with less resistance than with the old game damage law.
Property owners in Rio Blanco County will most likely be extremely interested in knowing that Senate Bill 09-024 (Responsibilities of the Division of Wildlife) was signed into law June 1, 2009.
The Colorado Farm Bureau initiated the bill in January 2009. Sen. Al White carried the bill, but by the time the governor signed it into law, five senators and 13 representatives had attached their names to this bill and supported it.
Listed below are some issues from the bill that were passed into law.
n Every landowner is eligible to receive temporary game damage prevention materials.
n The $100 rule was changed to $500 so if you charge less than $500 per hunter, you are now eligible for permanent game damage prevention materials.
n A landowner shall not be denied game damage prevention materials on the grounds that they received a land voucher.
n The DOW must respond with two business days after a game damage complaint.
n The DOW must consult with the landowner within five business days after a request has been made for damage materials.
n The DOW must deliver the temporary game damage materials within 15 business days to the landowner.
n If the DOW does not provide the game damage prevention materials within 15 days after meeting w/the landowner, the DOW must supply and erect the materials for the landowner and the state shall be liable for game damages incurred after the 15 business day period.
n If the materials that the DOW supplies fails to prevent game damage, the state is liable for damages.
n The new law now “encourages” permits to kill be issued to landowners if the wildlife objective for your area exceeds the objective.
n The DOW now must report on an annual basis to the general assembly with the following information:
n Herd management objectives, whether they are being met, and the actual number of herd animals by game unit.
n If herd objectives are not being met, the DOW must report to the general assembly how they intend to achieve compliance with the objectives.
n The number of requests for game damage prevention materials; the timeliness of the division responding; how many and what types of materials being issued; the number of requests being denied.
n The number of permits to take wildlife requested; the number of permits issued; the amount of wildlife killed; how many permits were denied and why.
n The number of damage claims; how many settled claims; the amounts of the settlements; pending claims; denied claims and reasons for denial.
n The DOW must annually appropriate $1.4 million for game damage claims and prevention and annually appropriate $600,000 for the implementation and administration of this new bill.
With the increasing number of wildlife and the habitat improvements that have been made, there are a few areas where the wildlife populations have become over objective and cause damage to agricultural operations. The passing of SB 09-024 allows for property owners to ask for reimbursement for losses caused by wildlife and/or for game damage prevention materials.
I have listed the link where you can read the new law: http://www.leg.state.co.us/ Click on “Session Laws” in the left-hand column. Then click on “Enacted Senate Bills” under Session Laws-2009 and scroll down to “024.”
Margaret Culverwell
Cattle rancher/property owner