Elk harvest drops below 50,000 for first time since ’99 | PostIndependent.com

Elk harvest drops below 50,000 for first time since ’99

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” The 2007 Hunting season yielded a 22 percent success rate for Elk Hunters in the state of Colorado. The Colorado Division of Wildlife reports that 49,012 elk were killed during the 2007 big game seasons by 227,262 hunters.

Hunters killed nearly 8,000 fewer elk than in 2006 and it was the first time since 1999 for the elk harvest to drop below 50,000.

“The reduced harvest is likely due to a combination of factors,” said Bruce Watkins, terrestrial analyst for the DOW. “Harvest during the first and second rifle seasons was consistent with previous years. However, conditions during third and fourth rifle seasons were very mild and harvest success dropped considerably, especially for cow elk. These seasons rely much more upon weather to make elk accessible and they were unusually warm and dry in 2007.”

Years of providing additional hunter opportunities to get statewide elk populations down to healthier numbers in certain areas may have contributed to the decrease in numbers as well. There may have been fewer elk in certain areas of the state that boosted harvest rates in years past. For 2007, the DOW dropped the number of limited elk licenses by 5,000 because elk numbers in some of the state’s traditionally high harvest areas were reaching the DOW’s objective population.

However, the DOW is also reporting 10,000 fewer elk hunters in the field during the 2007 hunting seasons. The DOW expects the decrease was due to fewer limited licenses being available, but also attributed the decline to weather, economic conditions and other variables that also likely affected license sales.

Deer hunters witnessed a higher success rate of 46 percent, with 98,283 hunters killing 45,026. Deer licenses were also the highest the DOW’s seen since 1999 as well.

Pronghorn harvest and success remained high in 2007 with a reported 12,647 pronghorn hunters killing 8,492 of the animals. Pronghorn had the highest success rate as well, at 67 percent. However, the 2007 pronghorn harvest was the highest it’s been in the past decade.

Additionally, the high numbers prove that unusually harsh winter conditions on the Eastern Plains during the previous winter did not have a major impact on pronghorn populations.

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