Federal hunting numbers accurate, official says | PostIndependent.com

Federal hunting numbers accurate, official says

Steve Lynn
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Just how much hunting has declined depends on whom you ask.

In Colorado, hunting has declined about 24 percent from 1991 to 2006, said Nicholas Throckmorton, spokesman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

That percentage is based on surveys conducted every five years of about 85,000 U.S. households.

The federal agency’s numbers on the decline of hunting in Colorado are inaccurate, said Tyler Baskfield, spokesman for the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Hunting has declined about 5 percent in the last 15 years in Colorado, he said. Baskfield did not provide numbers to back that statistic.

The number of Colorado elk licenses sold has increased. In 2001, 199,265 elk licenses were sold, and in 2006, 236,518 were sold. Fear of chronic wasting disease and an increase in the cost of licenses contributed to the low 2001 number, Baskfield said.

Throckmorton said the Fish and Wildlife Service numbers are reliable. Counting the number of licenses sold is not a reliable way to count the number of people who hunted in any year, he said.

“You have to be very careful how you count it,” Throckmorton said.

Officials agree that hunting and fishing are essential to Colorado’s economy and land conservation nationwide.

Hunters and fishermen are the “largest source of wildlife conservation funding in the country,” Throckmorton said.

Colorado has the largest number of elk per square mile in North America and that brings hunters here, Baskfield said. Hunting and fishing is a $2-billion-a-year industry in Colorado, he said.

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