DOW: Hunters wonder why usually reliable areas didn’t produce results

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RBC — The Colorado Division of Wildlife is hearing questions lately about why fall hunting seasons saw lower than expected harvest in some places. Some hunters have suggested that last winter’s high snowfall and extremely cold temperatures may have taken a heavy toll on the herds. Others seem to think that warm fall weather was to blame. Warm weather was certainly a large factor. Fall temperatures were well above average, and snow fall was minimal during all seasons, meaning herds saw no reason to leave their traditional summer ranges and head for winter range. When the herds didn’t migrate at the schedule, or into the areas hunters had grown accustomed to over the past decade, some reliable hunting areas turned out to be vacant of big game.
Animals weren’t down low and weren’t headed for lower elevation and that meant hunters along those traditional migratory paths weren’t seeing any animals.
Biologists and wildlife managers say big game dispersal may also have played a role in why hunters saw fewer animals. Hunters that headed for higher elevation in the hopes of finding the elk during the outbreak of unseasonable warm weather were more likely to be successful. But even some of those hunters said they saw fewer animals than in years past. That may be related to last winter’s heavy snowfall which made water plentiful and forage bountiful across the high country. This past summer and fall there was water and food available across the forested lands and high country, consequently animals were widely distributed and more difficult to locate.

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