Significant changes could be coming for Colorado big game hunting licenses and how they are distributed. If you participate in big game hunting in Colorado, here’s an update on the process, and how you can be (and should be) involved…
What Changes Are Being Considered?
In the fall of 2021, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) kicked off a process to review how the state’s big game licenses are distributed and to consider opportunities for improvement. Through public comment periods, focus groups and surveys, CPW has collected input from resident and nonresident hunters.
The topics being discussed cover the gamut of big game license distribution. That includes the preference point system, over-the-counter versus limited license distribution, and resident versus nonresident license allocation.
Of course these are big, complex topics. Every western state handles these issues differently. Any changes could have major impacts on the way we as hunters acquire our big game licenses. Could it mean a change to the percentage of licenses that are given to nonresident hunters? Could it mean the end of over-the-counter hunting as we’ve known it? Or could it mean a change to the preference point system? All of these issues are on the table and are subject to potential change.
How Will CPW Decide on Possible Changes?
Starting in the fall of 2021, CPW opened up a public comment period and collected feedback via an online comment form. This helped the agency develop priority topics for consideration. Then, through the winter and spring of 2022, CPW distributed surveys and held focus group meetings. There were also public meetings held throughout the state during the spring of 2022 to review and discuss possible alternative strategies.
With all of this feedback and information collected by the agency, CPW staff then began considering these alternate license distribution strategies, all the while keeping in mind how that would impact hunter opportunity, budget constraints, and other important factors.
The next step is for CPW staff to make recommendations to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, the board that sets regulations and policies for Colorado’s wildlife programs. These discussions will likely happen at the upcoming Commission meeting in November and will likely carry into subsequent Commission meetings.
How Can I Participate?
While much of the public comment opportunities have already happened, there is still opportunity to participate in the process. The most important thing hunters can do now is to attend the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Meetings.
These meetings are open to the public and sportspersons are encouraged to attend. It is possible to attend in person or online. And there are opportunities for public comment at every Commission meeting.
You can find a list of upcoming meetings here, as well as meeting agendas and information. On the Commission meeting pages, you’ll also find instructions on how to submit public comment. To stay apprised of the latest news from CPW, sign up for email updates here.
Another great way to stay involved is to support and volunteer with hunting organizations that are working on behalf of hunters and wildlife. Organizations like the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Colorado Bowhunters Association and many more have representatives at most Commission meetings. Get to know these groups, join the ones that align with your values and help support their efforts.
As hunters, we will do ourselves a great service to stay engaged and participate in the public process. Like any civic process, decisions are made by those who show up. The more hunter presence there is at Commission meetings and other CPW meetings, the better it is for the hunting community. Even beyond these big game license issues, hunter participation is needed at every level. Get involved, get to know your CPW staff and commissioners, and help make an impact for wildlife in Colorado!