Colorado considers changes to state hunting regs
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) recently held 10 focus groups in April and May to collect public sentiment on big game license distribution systems, preference points and other items related to the current system. Each group consisted of five to 10 participants with a total of 67 people weighing in on potential changes to CPW’s current hunting regulations, according to the agency.
Point creep, over-the-counter (OTC) licenses for nonresidents and residents as well as license allocation were topics continually discussed during the focus group sessions. Below, are the key takeaways currently on the table.
- OTC licenses. Focus group participants focused on three ideas within the OTC licenses: eliminate or cap all OTC licenses for both residents and nonresidents; eliminate or cap OTC licenses for nonresidents; or keep the OTC licenses exactly how they currently are (status quo).
- Preference points. With point creep being a hard-to-ignore problem, one of the suggested solutions was to require preference points to be used for additional licenses like during the secondary draw, reissued licenses and landowner vouchers as well as during the primary draw for second, third and fourth choices. Points would be used with more frequency and potentially limit – or decrease – point creep.
- Draw system. By expanding CPW’s current hybrid draw or creating a split draw system as other states have done or adding a random lottery pool or preference point pool, it would result in increased opportunity, specifically benefiting younger or newer hunters.
- Point banking. With this proposed change, hunters would only use the number of points needed for the license – instead of all of their points. This could help with point creep, but could also result in more point creep for low to medium point hunt codes if more hunters decide to apply for them.
- Average points. By averaging group points, it would allow friends and family to hunt together while also allowing higher point holders to potentially increase the draw odds for their group.
- License allocation. Nonresidents want to keep license allocation as it already is while residents pushed for more licenses (with a side note that outfitters and guides weren’t in this group). Residents also want the three-year average used to determine how licenses are allocated.
While the initial plan was to make the changes this fall, further consideration and time will be needed as CPW identifies the potential financial impact of the changes to both CPW and local communities and gathers additional information and data to make an informed decision. Therefore, the timeline for proposed regulatory changes has been extended into 2023.