Every five years, the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts a Big Game Season Structure to provide an overall framework for annual big game hunting regulations. The 5-Year Big Game Season Structure addresses issues like the length and timing of seasons for different species and types of hunts, the general proportion of licenses that will be limited or unlimited, and the balance among different kinds of hunting opportunities. The current Big Game Season Structure ends in 2014, and the next cycle will cover 2015-2019. Ideas and comments from the public are crucial to this process.
Why do we have a 5-yr structure?
The 5-Year Season Structure helps guide Parks and Wildlife’s management activities to keep game populations in balance with habitat. In addition, it helps CPW provide a broad range of hunting experiences to fit the varied preferences of different hunters.
The Commission adopts the Big Game Season Structure for a five year time period for several reasons. First, this timeframe provides consistency for CPW to assess the effectiveness of management actions and hunting seasons over time. Second, it is for YOUR convenience! It allows hunters the opportunity to request vacation time, plan hunts, and arrange schedules. It allows landowners to plan for seasons and hunter opportunities consistent with their other land use plans. It allows guides and outfitters, restaurant and motel owners, and other service providers to make business plans with some certainty about hunting seasons for the next five years.
Working within the 5-Year Big Game Season Structure, the Commission issues annual hunting regulations that set the number of licenses available in each game unit, define allowable hunting methods, and address other specific management needs. These annual regulations draw on the wildlife data gathered by CPW’s biologists as well as issues raised by wildlife managers, hunters, landowners, and other concerned people. 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure: Scope and Process
The following scope and process for the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure was approved by the Commission in November 2013.
The 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure will describe the dates, timing, and length of big game seasons for elk, deer, pronghorn, moose, bear, and mountain lion. (It will not address bighorn sheep and mountain goat seasons.) Season structure includes issues like the number of seasons for each species and method of take, overlap among different seasons/methods of take, breaks between seasons, and the timing of beginning and ending dates.
The last Big Game Season Structure made several changes to the preference point system, including the creation of a new hybrid draw system for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear. Given that the hybrid draw system has had little real effect on preference point creep and that the ability to utilize preference points for a premium hunting experience remains a significant and major issue for our hunters, vetting additional changes to the preference point system is warranted in this Big Game Season Structure cycle. The 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure will review these changes and consider other preference point issues.
In the past, the Commission has considered designation of units for totally limited elk hunting in a process separate from, but concurrent with the Big Game Season Structure. Again, as was done for the last two 5-year cycles, this process will rely on a public nomination process in which citizens submit proposals and document the support for limiting any specific unit.
Coordination with other Big Game Management Discussions
License numbers will continue to be managed through the regular rule-making process, based on population objectives set through the normal herd management (DAU) planning process.
Issues related to big game hunting or scouting methods that require regulations to implement, such as the use of certain devices or new technologies, will continue to be handled through the normal regulations process as issues arise.
Allocation issues, including the allocation of licenses between residents and non-residents and the allocation of licenses through programs targeted at landowners will be reviewed through other planning processes brought to the Commission for consideration.
Season structure-related issues raised through the development of the Mule Deer Strategy will be incorporated into the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure as appropriate.
In order to inform regulation setting for the 2015 seasons, the Commission will need to approve the 2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure in September 2014. The attached timeline provides an overview of key Commission decision points and public involvement activities.
Public Involvement Activities
As in past Big Game Season Structure planning cycles, CPW staff will undertake a variety of activities to inform key constituent groups about the 2015-2019 planning process and to solicit input on BGSS. These activities will include media outreach, local public meetings, targeted stakeholder briefings, quantitative surveys, and focus groups.
CPW will use a three-pronged approach to involve the public in the BGSS process: we will make stakeholders and the public aware of the BGSS process; we will use outreach to inform BGSS constituents about the various issues and topics that requires their input; and we will consult with stakeholders and the public in a variety of forums to gain their input.
The initial phases of notifying stakeholders about the process and opportunities for involvement began in November 2013. The internal vetting of the season structure will intensify after the major big game season close. Information will be disseminated through our website, e-mails and the media, and staff will prepare to implement the various facets of public scoping in early 2014. Staff is developing a big game hunter survey that will be delivered to a sample of resident and non-resident hunters after the holiday season. Results and analysis will be available to inform the season structure process in March. The attached timeline outlines the approximate timing of some of these activities.
2015-2019 Big Game Season Structure
Process and Timeline
How Can You Participate?
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More information on opportunities to participate in the 2015-2019 BGSS Planning process will be available soon!