Hunting harvest down in Aspen area in ’09 |

Hunting harvest down in Aspen area in ’09

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Hunters in the Aspen area took fewer elk last year than in 2008, though statewide totals were up, according to recently released data from the Colorado Division of Wildlife.

The deer hunt was also down slightly in the Roaring Fork Valley, including the area surrounding Aspen.

The decline in the harvest last year accompanies a decrease in the number of hunters in the woods locally, according to the DOW.

Deer hunters took 335 animals last year in the three game-management units surrounding Aspen, compared to 351 in 2008. The units are associated with the Maroon Bells herd, which numbered about 5,900 animals last year, according to DOW estimates. That population area extends from roughly Glenwood Springs to the top of Independence Pass, southeast of Aspen.

New population estimates for deer and elk are not yet available.

Elk hunters in the Roaring Fork Valley took 883 animals in 2009, compared to 944 in 2008.

The harvests are estimates, according to DOW spokesman Randy Hampton. Hunters participating in the rifle, archery and muzzleloading seasons do not have to register their kills with the DOW. Rather, the division collects hunt data through online and telephone surveys, using a statistically valid sampling of licensed hunters to arrive at a tally.

The dip in the number of hunters may be attributable to various factors, including the economy, weather and the number of deer licenses made available, Hampton said.

There were 4,446 licensed elk hunters in the three Aspen-area game-management units in 2009, and 1,117 deer hunters, according to the DOW. Those numbers compare to 4,630 elk hunters in 2008 and 1,235 deer hunters.

Colorado sees far more elk than deer hunters.

“We’re the only state that offers an over-the-counter bull elk license to non-residents,” Hampton said.

During the second and third elk seasons, anyone can purchase a bull elk license over the counter. The license is $545 for nonresidents and $45 for Colorado residents.

Statewide, elk hunters took 47,543 elk, including 22,020 bulls, in 2009. That’s up from 45,271 elk, including 21,649 bulls, in 2008, according to the DOW. The increase came despite a drop in the total number of hunters – 208,529 in 2009 vs. 223,439 in 2008.

The statewide deer harvest last year totaled 33,922 animals, including 24,607 bucks. Those numbers are down from 2008’s totals – 35,552 deer and 25,069 bucks, but the number of deer hunters was also down. The DOW issued licenses to 78,536 deer hunters in 2009, compared to 86,245 in 2008. There were 98,283 deer licenses issued in 2007.

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