Community Agriculture Alliance: Colorado Parks and Wildlife Game Damage Program
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
If you are a landowner or agricultural producer in Colorado and are not familiar with the Game Damage Program through Colorado Parks and Wildlife, this column is for you. Per Colorado law, Parks and Wildlife is responsible for damages to raw agricultural products or personal property used in the production of agricultural products caused by big game.
Big game animals, such as elk, deer, pronghorn, mountain lions and bears, can cause significant damages or losses to livestock, crops, apiaries or other operations that produce agricultural products. Some of these losses can be difficult, or even impossible, to mitigate completely, and that is where the Game Damage Program can help.
Prevention of damage caused by big game starts with just that — prevention. Through the Game Damage Program, Parks and Wildlife can provide temporary damage prevention materials to any landowner or producer including hay/elk panels, pyrotechnic hazing equipment and other materials meant to discourage big game animals from damaging property or agricultural products.
Further, any landowner or producer who would qualify for reimbursement may request permanent damage prevention materials. In such cases and upon a written agreement, Parks and Wildlife will provide all of the materials needed to construct permanent structures, such as stackyards or orchard fences. Additionally, these materials may be provided before damage begins. In many cases, it actually costs Parks and Wildlife less to furnish prevention materials prior to damage than to reimburse landowners/producers for losses later.
So who qualifies for reimbursement and permanent damage prevention materials? Landowners and producers who are suffering damages from big game animals may file a claim for reimbursement if they meet certain legal qualifications including the following.
- Damage is being caused by big game species: elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, pronghorn, black bears or mountain lions.
- Landowner/producer has exercised their duty to mitigate damages — try to prevent damage from occurring including the use of temporary damage prevention materials.
- Landowner/producer does not unreasonably restrict hunting or hunting access to take big game species causing damage.
- Landowner/producer does not charge more than $500 per person to hunt big game species causing damage.
Claims that do not meet these requirements are subject to denial. However, typically, less than 3% of claims are denied mostly because claimants could not prove that damage was caused by big game.
The Game Damage Process begins by notifying your local Parks and Wildlife office or District Wildlife Manager as soon as you discover damage. Then, you will work closely with your local manager to resolve the issue or file a claim.
In extraordinary cases where traditional damage prevention tactics have been tried or are failing, your local Habitat Partnership Program can help. Here in the Yampa Valley, you can reach out to the Upper Yampa River Habitat Partnership Program Committee through your local wildlife manager.
Additional information about the Game Damage Program can be found at cpw.state.co.us/aboutus/Pages/GameDamage.aspx or contact the Parks and Wildlife Steamboat Springs Customer Service Center at 970-870-2197.
Kyle Bond is the Steamboat South district wildlife manager.
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