Colorado hunters not hung up on economy | VailDaily.com

Colorado hunters not hung up on economy

John Gardner
jgardner@postindependent.com
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” If there is a recession in Western Colorado, the hunters haven’t noticed.

According to the Colorado Division of Wildlife applications are down less than 2 percent from 2008. The license applications include pronghorn, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, moose, turkey, fall bear, desert bighorn sheep, spring turkey and the most popular species of elk and deer.

However, the application numbers indicate that the hunting industry remains strong, according to DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. The actual number of licenses were down 9,318 from 2008 to 2009. However they still received nearly 470,000 applications this year.

“Overall, this is nothing that jumps out as a big surprise or concern for us,” Hampton said.

Hunting, according to Hampton, is one activity that people will find a way to do, even during a recession. Over the past few years even with record-high gas prices, Hampton said that the DOW didn’t see any drastic drops in hunting licenses or applications.

“Hunters are going to hunt,” Hampton said. “It’s something they do with their family, and they’re going to continue to do it.”

Hampton said that a decrease in available tags for elk and deer this year could also be a reason for the slight decline in applications. Hampton said the DOW will issue about 10,000 fewer elk licenses and around 7,000 fewer deer licenses statewide.

However, an interesting trend has developed between the number of resident and nonresident applications. This year nonresident applications were down 9 percent (15,920 applications) while the resident applications rose 2 percent (5,740 applications).

“This would indicate that people are staying closer to home to hunt,” Hampton said. “Our residents may stay in Colorado to hunt, and other residents may stay closer to their home rather than coming to Colorado.”

However, the DOW usually receives more resident applications ” on average ” than nonresident applications.

The biggest decline was in the nonresident deer applications, which were down 11 percent from 2008. However there were still 58,500 applications this year.

But these numbers are not final. Hampton said that over-the-counter tags, which are only available in second and third rifle season for elk, could determine how successful this hunting season is.

In 2008, the DOW sold approximately 100,000 over-the-counter tags, Hampton said.

Hampton indicated that deer and elk were the only species to see declines in applications this year. All the other species actually saw increases in applications.

However, the declines in applications for deer and elk is not necessarily indicative of fewer hunters, he said.

“It’s not that they are not coming to hunt,” Hampton said. “They may just be hunting fewer species.”

Statewide, the hunting and fishing industries combined bring in more than $1.5 billion each year, a large part of which is generated through the sale of game licenses. According to Hampton, Garfield County sees more than $30 million annually in direct expenditures and close to $53 million through indirect expenditures, from hunters and anglers each year.

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

jgardner@postindependent.com