One license to hunt bighorn near Glenwood up for grabs |

One license to hunt bighorn near Glenwood up for grabs

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” The Colorado Wildlife Commission approved a new bighorn sheep season in the area north of Glenwood Springs for the fall 2009 hunt at its regular meeting on Jan. 12.

The commission also approved another bighorn sheep unit north of Steamboat Springs for a fall 2009 season as well.

But before hunters get too excited, Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said both units will have an “extremely limited number of licenses.”

And he’s not kidding. The DOW will issue only a single license for the 2009 fall hunt for the area north of Glenwood Springs. The amount for the Steamboat area is yet to be determined. But low numbers are typical for bighorn sheep herds.

“We’re managing a fairly small population in comparison to deer and elk herds,” Hampton said.

But even low harvests allow the DOW to maintain a healthy population which helps to preserve a healthy habitat as well.

According to Hampton, the DOW decided to reopen the Glenwood and Steamboat units because they’ve determined the bighorn populations in the two areas are at healthy levels. However, he said, there are a higher number of older bighorn sheep providing hunting opportunities in the Glenwood unit.

“It’s not a huge population but it’s sufficient enough to support an animal harvest on it,” Hampton said. “Ultimately, these opportunities help support the protection of other wildlife through the sale of licenses.”

The single ram license available for the Glenwood area is a resident draw only, no nonresidents will be included in the draw, and the license will cost $251. The Glenwood unit runs north from New Castle along Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon. While it stretches as far north as Heart Lake on the Flat Tops, typically the bighorn sheep herds remain closer to the canyon area.

While the commission approved to open these areas for hunts, the commission suspended hunts in the Pikes Peak Unit west of Colorado Springs and the Dome Rock Unit near Gunnison.

Harvest rates for both those areas were similar with four licenses issued for Dome Rock and only one successful hunt, and two licenses for the Pikes Peak Unit with two successful hunts in 2007.

It’s not unusual for the DOW to frequently open and close bighorn units, according to Hampton.

“Units are closed and opened fairly often when you are dealing with smaller populations,” Hampton said.

Some of the determining factors include disease or predatory issues. If the DOW recognizes a population decreasing they will suspend a season.

The 2009 bighorn sheep season runs from Sept. 8 to Oct. 8. Hunters can apply for the license draw in April and should be notified by July.

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