Status of The Big Game Herds
State Reports Habitat and Challenges
By Travis Duncan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
After months of hard work by Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the engagement of more than 40 conservation partners, a new status report on Colorado’s big game winter range and migration corridors has been released that will inform future efforts to protect this invaluable natural resource.
Governor Jared Polis directed both Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) to work cooperatively to conserve Colorado’s valuable big game resources through executive order. This executive order, Conserving Colorado’s Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors, directed Colorado Parks and Wildlife to compile a big game status report that will guide both agencies, as well as its partners, to collectively improve the conservation of big game winter range and migration corridors.
“This report provides a strong foundation as we turn our attention to crafting a strategy for conserving and restoring seasonal wildlife habitat and migration corridors across the state,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s detailed assessment illustrates the challenges our big game herds face in areas where development, environmental, recreation, and other pressures are evident, but it also points to opportunities for reducing habitat fragmentation and sustaining our big game populations down the road.”
The report contains the current state of knowledge concerning Colorado’s big game herds and the challenges they face. It features CPW’s compilation of the best-available science on our state’s big game populations, including population status and trends, monitoring and inventory methods, seasonal habitats and migration corridors, and conservation threats and actions.
The report also outlines current research and data gaps associated with Colorado’s big game winter range and migration corridors. CPW’s report concludes with recommendations on a path forward to conserve these valuable habitats and populations.
“The Big Game Winter Range and Migration Corridor Report is a testament to the great work CPW does in managing our state’s big game herds,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow. “This document will provide information for all CPW personnel, other government agencies, outside stakeholders, and all of Colorado as we continue to manage Colorado’s big game herds and ensure their long-term viability in this great state.”
CPW Forest Habitat Coordinator Casey Cooley played an instrumental role in coordinating with multiple CPW departments and more than 40 conservation partners to create this report.
“Our deer and elk herds are an important part of Colorado’s outdoor identity; because of the amount of work CPW puts in conserving wildlife, we have really high-quality herds – in fact, we manage the largest elk herds in North America. We are committed to protecting these animals by maintaining habitat connectivity and making sure we’re removing migration barriers that may currently exist,” Cooley said. “The report highlights CPW’s long-term goals: habitat protection and winter range restoration. This report is a tool that will help us move forward in conserving big game and their habitats.”
This report illustrates the current state of Colorado’s big game herds, their habitat and the challenges they face, and lays the groundwork for future policy, regulatory and legislative recommendations to ensure the ongoing conservation of seasonal big game habitat and migration corridors.
Travis Duncan is a public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Denver. Travis has lived in Colorado nearly 20 years and loves the outdoors. If you have a question, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
Learn to Hunt Webinar Series
COVID-19 and its impacts on how information is shared isn’t just affecting the classroom, but also how residents learn and interact in the great outdoors. In fact for rural residents, the new virtual reality of online meetings and programs offers a greater opportunity to participate in these state-run classes, avoiding risky travel as well as large crowds.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) Learn to Hunt webinar series continues tonight, May 28 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. If you’re interested in learning how to hunt but not sure where to start? Or if you know someone who might benefit from some hunting tips and tricks here’s the rest of the line:
- Big Game Hunting Tactics – May 28 – We will discuss three hunting tactics to try in the field and when you might want to try them.
- Secondary Draw, Leftover Licenses, and OTC Licenses – June 4 – New to Colorado in 2020 is the Secondary Draw. Let’s talk about how this works, as well as leftover and over the counter options for this coming fall.
- Hunt Mentors and Hunt Community – June 11 – A challenge to new hunters, or hunters new to Colorado, is finding people to hunt with. We will discuss opportunities to find mentors and fellow hunters.
While the virtual reality will continue until early June with programs like these, unfortunately, the real Colorado Parks and Wildlife campgrounds will remain closed until further notice. Agency staff is working on a reopening plan, but ask visitors to State Parks to remain flexible in their travel plans as they navigate a very uncertain time. Readers can get updates HERE.