Colorado to issue fewer licenses this fall
This year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) will be issuing fewer big game hunting licenses. Wicked winter weather greatly impacted herds, resulting in high mortality rates and the “most severe snow conditions in 70 years.” In order to help Colorado wildlife recover, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission approved a cut in licenses for deer, elk, antelope, moose and bear as well as fewer archery licenses for the 2023-2024 season, according to Channel 9 News.
Elk were hit hard with high elk calf and above-average cow mortality in the northwest region. CPW reported the lowest survival rates ever documented. Mule deer suffered from winter weather and chronic wasting disease, resulting in a reduction in male and either-sex mule deer licenses in certain areas. Antelope in northwest Colorado were impacted the most as horrible winter habitat conditions meant no food as it was buried deep beneath the snow. Deep snow pushed antelope closer to roads for relief, which meant “higher-than-normal” wildlife-vehicle collisions.
“This winter has been historic in many ways,” said CPW biologist Darby Finley. “These recommendations were not easy to make, and we know they will impact more than just CPW, including hunting opportunities and local economies. However, we believe these substantial reductions in licenses will allow herds to recover as quickly as possible.”
Season dates for over-the-counter elk licenses in the northwest region will also be shortened for the second and third rifle seasons.
“This winter is a great example of why CPW sets license quota recommendations in late spring,” said CPW biologist Brad Banulis. “By using the data and biological information we collect from late fall through early spring, we can evaluate conditions and make the best license recommendations to meet herd management objectives.”
For the 2023-2024 season, CPW will offer 236,600 licenses for deer, elk, antelope, moose and bear, which is a 12% cut in the number offered last year. There will be 12,600 fewer deer licenses for northwest Colorado. There will be 107,700 elk licenses, which is a decrease of 15,400 from last year. Additionally, archery licenses for hunt code E-E-004-O1-A and muzzleloader licenses for hunt codes E-E-004-O1-M and E-E-014-O1-M will be reduced by an additional 25%.