This is an open letter to hunters, guides and outfitters.
Please take a second to review the current proposed actions of Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW). This past week, the CPW released the recommended tag allocations for big game animals.
In general, they have decided that it is a good idea to increase deer tags throughout Northwestern Colorado. Specifically, increase the number of buck tags by an average of 10 percent. Some hunt codes are seeing as much as a 50 percent increase. Some people may think: great, now I can draw a tag, but, for many, this makes absolutely no sense at all.
It is no secret that the NW section of the state suffered a long, hard and cold winter. As a result, there was significant winter kill. Some reports indicate that as much as 30 percent above-average winter kill.
In some units and herds there was nearly 100 percent fawn die off and current fawn retention rates are extremely low.
Overall, it is no secret that deer numbers are struggling throughout the West.
With this latest winter we have all but lost an entire generation of deer. To many, the Northwest region of the state was just starting to show signs of making a slight comeback. As some have stated “It was nice to hunt deer again and actually expect to see four-point bucks!” Or “at least I knew I did not have to shoot the first three-point I saw.”
In 2013, the data showed there was an estimated population of 28,370 deer in units 3,301,4,441,5,14,214 and 10 percent below population objectives. Now, in 2016, after a significantly above-average winter and high mortality rates, the population estimate is 47,180 and 10 percent over population objectives.
In other units, like 11, 211, and 22, the deer are still considered to be under objective by more than 10 percent. Yet, they are proposing the exact tag increases, a 10 percent average increase for bucks.
In this area, they are claiming that the tags are needed to get the excessive number of bucks back to the appropriate levels. How can there be too many bucks if the entire herd is under objective? Why would we want to kill off bucks instead of increase the doe population?
Sadly this must have something to do with funding and politics and nothing to do with sound management and biology.
How exactly can we have excess bucks? How can we jump and grow a herd by more than 20 percent in a few short years despite all deer in the West struggling? Regardless, this tag increase is bad for deer, bad for hunters and bad for those who rely on hunting to support their families.
Today (May 12) and Friday (May 13), the CPW commission will be meeting in Grand Junction. Please attend that meeting to voice your concerns. Or you may email the commission at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Do not let our deer herd fall back to the levels we had in 2009-2012.
Rio Blanco County