DOW seeks public input for limited elk unit nomination process

The Colorado Wildlife Commission will consider increasing the number of totally limited elk units for the 2010-2014 hunting seasons as part of its Five-Year Review of Big Game Season Structure.

Approximately 16 percent of Colorado’s elk population is located in totally limited units.  The Commission will consider managing up to 30 percent of the statewide elk population in totally limited units.

A public nomination process is now open to identify elk Data Analysis Units or DAUs for consideration as totally limited units.  This process provides a special opportunity for the public to weigh-in on elk hunting management in Colorado.

The public nomination process will provide limited unit proponents the opportunity to submit proposals for limiting all antlered and either-sex elk licenses in specific DAUs.  In addition, the Commission will entertain nominations from proponents who want to remove a DAU from its current limited status.

Elk herds are at or above the population objective in most areas in the state.  Therefore, the goal of this process is to explore ways to offer a greater variety of statewide hunting opportunities.  Changes to DAUs do not reflect an attempt to manage herd populations.

Limiting all elk licenses in a DAU can potentially improve hunter satisfaction and success rates but can also potentially decrease elk hunting opportunities, increase crowding in remaining unlimited units and have economic impacts.  All licenses in a totally limited unit are awarded by draw or are sold as “leftovers” after the completion of the drawing process.  Over-the-counter licenses are not available in totally limited units.

Nominations should apply to entire DAUs but individual Game Management Units or GMUs may be considered in areas that have split management (offering both limited and unlimited hunting).  However, public nominations cannot be used to change season dates or timing in elk units.

A DAU is the geographic area that represents the annual range of a big game herd. Each DAU is composed of one or more GMUs.  GMUs are hunting boundaries located within a specific DAU. 

The Division must be notified by Feb. 28, 2009, of the intent to nominate a unit.  All nominations for limitation or delimitation must be received by May 1, 2009. The Wildlife Commission will review all submissions and continue to take public testimony until September 2009, when final nominations are either approved or rejected.

Nominations will be evaluated based on public support and the potential of the proposed DAU to support the proposed change in management.  Certain DAUs may be proposed by the public that due to animal migrations and other mitigating factors, do not lend themselves to management changes.

Many local economies and a variety of interest groups are directly affected by Colorado’s big game hunting seasons. Therefore, the DOW encourages hunters, outfitters, landowners, restaurant and small business owners to participate in this process. Every opinion is important and will help guide the Wildlife Commission during this important decision-making process.

For further information regarding the nomination process and to download the “2010 Limited Elk Unit Nomination Form,” visit the Division’s Web site at: