Colorado’s bighorn sheep and mountain goats threatened following surge in big game hunting applications

Colorado’s bighorn sheep and mountain goats threatened following surge in big game hunting applications

When the COVID-19 pandemic first broke out, the vast majority of Americans went outside. National shutdowns and social distancing guidelines became the norm during the transition.

Meanwhile, state and national parks around the United States have seen an increase in visitors. The number of large game hunting applications in Colorado, on the other hand, has increased dramatically.

While Colorado is known for its hiking culture, hunting has grown in popularity in recent years. According to Fox 13 KDVR, the population of the state is quickly increasing.

As a result, Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued a press statement on Friday advising hunters to submit big game hunting applications as soon as possible. As seasoned hunters prepare to move ahead of the pack, they made their statement.

The outlet reports that since 2015, the number of Colorado’s big game hunting applications increased by 27%. Further, Colorado’s big game hunting applicant numbers rose by 50,000 to 70,000 annually for the last three years.

Most of Colorado’s big game hunters are angling for deer and elk. However, in recent years, more and more hunters have been drawn to other large species like bighorn sheep and mountain goats.

Additionally, a larger portion of Colorado’s big game hunting applications come from hunters out of state. A chart provided on the news outlet’s website shows that more than 30% of hunters in 2021 were from out of state. The surge speaks to the state’s big game hunting opportunities as well as a greater drive for experienced hunters to get outdoors.

Colorado Votes Down Big Cat Hunting Ban

Speaking of big game, CO just voted down a bill that would have put a limit on hunting big cats.

The overall goal of the bill was to attempt to govern one small piece of an ecosystem. Essentially, it would have become illegal for hunters to pursue big CO cats, which, as a result, would have put a greater strain on farmers and ranchers.

While hunting enables those willing to commit to bring food home at the end of the day, it also contributes greatly to population control. If the state government were to ban the pursuit of big cats, their populations would have thrived and farmers and ranchers, some with little firearms experience, would have been left to protect their flocks.

Senators voted against the big cat ban, with a 4-1 outcome.

COVID-19 Sends More Americans Outdoors to Hunt, Fish, and More

While hunting has become a major draw for outdoorsmen in CO, other outside activities have drawn larger crowds over the last few years.

In addition to CPW’s 300 mentored statewide hunts, the organization also presented state residents with various opportunities for fishing. Some youth and novice hunters took to the woods for guided hunts. However, thanks to the CPW, more than 100 fishing clinics took place across CO last year.

The programs reportedly introduced about 3,000 people to different variations of angling. Some learn to fly fish and ice fish, while others spent time warm water fishing. The CPW even hosted children’s events.

This article by Shelby Scott was first published by The Outsider on 28 March 2022. 

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