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Colorado’s 2020 Hunting Season Uncertainties

Posted by Libby O’Neall and Robert Tanm|The Colorado Sun |December 9, 2020

Wildfires, droughts, and the Coronavirus have caused unexpected impact on Colorado’s hunting industry. Check out this article from The Colorado Sun on how the unexpected factors of this year may affect the long term outlook of Colorado’s wildlife, the reshaping of forests, and user numbers.

“Earl Oesterling first noticed the smoke plumes of the Cameron Peak fire near his business, Ivory & Antler Outfitters, in mid-August. He knew that signaled trouble for hunting even beyond the crowds and the drought that already beset the area.

The Jackson County outfitter, located about 20 miles west of what became a massive wildfire only recently contained, had already contended with unpredictable wildlife movement due to Colorado’s dry weather as well as an influx of outdoor recreators amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Where you would normally have large herds of elk up here together, there’s smaller groups of elk by a lot,” Oesterling said. Oesterling and other owners of outdoor recreation businesses are facing crises like they’ve never seen before. An increase in outdoor use because of the pandemic has brought more customers — and that, coupled with drought and land closure brought on by wildfires, has put additional pressure on wildlife.

“We’ve definitely seen a lot of changes in the animals’ behaviors,” he said. “I can’t tell you what that will do for future operations because in this business it’s all about the here and now. … There’s too many uncontrollables.”…

The state sees around 375,000 deer, elk and pronghorn hunters per year with hundreds of thousands of licenses issued annually. Colorado Parks and Wildlife brought in over $112 million last year in revenue from licenses, passes, fees and permits, or about 54% of its $231.8 million budget…”

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