Colorado Parks and Wildlife seeking public input on big game management in Northwest Colorado

A bull elk eats in Steamboat Springs in 2014. (Photo by John F. Russell)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking input on how it manages deer and elk in Northwest Colorado.

The agency is developing a new herd management plan for the White River mule deer herd, one of the largest in the state, which migrates between Routt, Moffat and Rio Blanco counties. It is also developing a new plan for the Gore Pass elk herd, which lives in southern Routt County.

If you go

What: Discussion about big game season structure and herd management plans
When: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16
Where: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Steamboat Springs Office, 925 Weiss Drive

Comments on the big game season can be sent by email to or online at

Comments on the White River herd management plan can be submitted online at
. The comment period closes Feb. 13.

“A lot has changed since 1995 when we approved the current plan,” Meeker Area Wildlife Manager Bill de Vergie said of the White River herd in a news release. “Chronic wasting disease is affecting this herd, and we’re dealing with significant loss and fragmentation of habitat. This herd has also gone through severe winters, drought and fires.

“In addition, there is far more outdoor recreation occurring today, and more people means more traffic leading to more dead deer and an increased danger to motorists,” de Vergie continued. “Predation is definitely a consideration as is continuing oil and gas exploration. The next plan will need to account for all these dynamics.”

Parks and Wildlife is also developing changes to the structure of big game seasons, including when, where and what kind of methods hunters will be allowed to use in order to hunt deer, elk, moose, antelope and bear.

Parks and Wildlife will host a seminar explaining how the agency forms these plans at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at its office in Steamboat Springs.

In a news release, Area Wildlife Manager Kris Middledorf said, though wildlife biology is a primary consideration in management, the agency also needs public input to make decisions.

“As wildlife managers, we cannot just look at the science to make decisions,” he said in the release. “We need the public on board so that we make decisions they understand and support. That’s what this meeting is for — helping folks understand what goes into management decisions and how they can help.”

If you can’t attend the meeting, public comment is open on the White River herd management plan and the big game season structure at the following.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife are creating new management plans for elk and deer herds in the highlighted game management units.

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