Bears and mule deer continued to dominate the conversation among members of Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife Commission (PWC) and the sportsmen’s community at large during the monthly PWC meeting in Grand Junction on Thursday, albeit for converse reasons.
Commissioners taking on the annual task of approving limited big game hunting license recommendations for 2013 were once again reminded that Colorado has too many bears and not nearly enough mule deer to meet wildlife management objectives. Yet the short-term approach to both issues is the same: Increase the number of hunting licenses for both species.
The 20 percent increase in bear hunting licenses over 2012 by far outpaces the boost in license numbers for any other big game animal, although the sum of 21,167 bear licenses available in 2013 can’t compare with opportunities to hunt more popular big game animals like deer and elk. But state wildlife managers have made clear their intention to continue efforts to reduce Colorado’s black bear population conservatively estimated at about 18,000, and they’re looking at hunters for help. The predicted hunter harvest from the 2013 license allocation is 1,373 bears.