Hunters back stance by commissioners on elk | AspenTimes.com
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Hunters back stance by commissioners on elk

Eben Harrell

Local elk hunters were up in arms yesterday, figuratively, thank God, over a proposed restriction on bull elk hunting in sections of Pitkin County.Around 20 hunters converged on the meeting room of the Pitkin County commissioners yesterday to offer their thoughts on a Colorado Division of Wildlife proposal to designate two county hunting areas as “limited bull elk hunting areas.” The designation, an effort to ensure healthy elk herds by limiting the number of male bulls harvested, would reduce the number of hunters in the county by up to 50 percent.The commissioners, who have no authority over DOW hunting policies, have already sent a letter to the division opposing the hunting restrictions. Yesterday, they were considering a formal resolution opposing them.The commissioners argued that hunting provides a crucial boost to the local economy. They also said county wildlife biologist Jonathon Lowsky believes limiting the number of bull hunting licenses might not be the most effective way to ensure healthy herds.”Elk population objectives are met by harvesting cows rather than bulls,” the commissioners wrote in their letter to the DOW.All of the hunters at the meeting expressed support for the commissioners’ position, except for Marble-based outfitter and hunting guide Gary Hubble. He said hunting areas in Pitkin County have become overcrowded.”I know how to hunt. I’ve pulled the trigger on a lot of elk. In our part of the world we are being overrun by hunters,” Hubble said.The other hunters in the room countered that Hubble was trying to drive them out in order to help his own business. They argued that his license would be secure despite the proposed restrictions, so he would have the hunting areas largely to himself and his business.”This proposal is the result of a commercial interest,” one hunter said. “I believe in equality. And I don’t want to see hunters driven out so one outfitter can make more money.”The commissioners passed their resolution opposing the restrictions and directed staff to send the resolution to DOW officials. The DOW will hold two public meetings on the proposed restrictions, which will also affect Garfield, Eagle and Gunnison counties. The first meetings will be in Durango on Sept. 8-9 and the second set will be in Glenwood Springs on Oct. 5-6. A final decision will be reached by December.Eben Harrell’s e-mail address is eharrell@aspentimes.com


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