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Hunting boosts local economy

Thousands of people with big guns and bigger dreams are flowing into Colorado from outside the state this weekend for the first rifle season of the elk hunt.

Although spending pales in comparison to ski season, hunting and fishing still pump millions of dollars into Pitkin County’s economy. A recent study performed for the Colorado Division of Wildlife estimated that hunters and anglers spent $13 million during their trips for supplies, groceries, lodging, beer and the like in Pitkin County in 2002. About $7 million came from hunting.

There was another $10.6 million of indirect economic benefit in Pitkin County due to the multiplier effect. That’s when dollars spent by hunters and anglers gets spent again within the community.



The first rifle season Oct. 15-19 is for elk only. Tags were earned in a drawing. It attracts a lot of out-of-state hunters who like the fall weather and scenery, and relatively easy access to vast acres of public lands, according to Pat Tucker, district wildlife manager for the area that includes the Roaring Fork Valley. Some locals also favor this first season.

Hunters have harvested a record number of elk in two of the last three years. Conditions appear ripe for another big year.



“We anticipate a higher number of hunters,” said Pat Tucker, district wildlife manager for the area that includes the Roaring Fork Valley. “There is a good population of deer and elk.”

The wildlife division hopes to reduce the post-hunt population from 275,000 elk last year to 250,000 this year. Targets are set based on what the wildlife division deems as sustainable on available habitat.

The second rifle season is Oct. 22 through 30. Deer can be hunted then as well as elk. Licenses are available over the counter. The third season is Nov. 5-11. Over-the-counter bull tags are available in the second and third seasons only. The fourth season is Nov. 16-20.

The cost of an elk hunting license is $30.25 for Colorado residents. Non-resident fees are $485.25 for a bull elk license and $250.25 for a cow elk license.

Pitkin County ranks 22nd out of 63 counties in Colorado for spending by hunters and anglers. Both Eagle and Garfield counties ranked higher. Tucker noted that businesses in remote parts of the state might see 50 to 70 percent of their annual business during hunting season.

Statewide hunting and fishing produced $797 million in direct spending in 2002, the wildlife division study shows.


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