September 23, 2023

Colorado Elk Herd on the Decline. Can This Be True?

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Back in April, I brought you a series of stories about too many elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. You can find those stories here, here and here. In the park the elk are eating more forest and vegetation than rangers can grow. Now park officials want to go in at night with silencers on guns and kill as many as 700 animals a year for the next several years. As part of their elk herd reduction proposal, no where is hunting even considered as a viable option.

Last Thursday, the Colorado Wildlife Commission approved the reduction of elk permits for next season by 15,000 and project that in a couple of years total permits issued statewide will probably be cut in half. Last year 152,000 permits were issued, the most ever and now officials say that harvests have been so good that if everything plays out as estimated, permits will only number 60,000-75,000.

How can this be? It can be and I’m not going to second guess statistics and estimations by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. All hunters know that there can be huge discrepancies in herd numbers from one wildlife management zone to the next and Colorado is no different than any other state.

The southwestern part of the state struggles to keep a herd at the numbers where biologists would like to see them yet other zones are thriving. This is all part of wildlife management following the ups and downs of populations often affected by uncontrollable circumstances.

What I don’t understand is reducing the number of elk permits by as much as 75,000 while at the same time, the National Park Service proposes night time slaughters of elk in the Rocky Mountain National Park. Hunters can achieve the park’s objectives of reducing the herd in just a few short days while the park is closed. It would cost the state and the Fed nothing, except a bit of revenue from park fees lost but hunters would be glad to make up that difference by buying an elk permit.

This is just a ridiculous contradiction to announce reductions in elk permits while at the same time telling the world there are too many elk in some areas. Spiteful!

Tom Remington