We recently learned of some developments in Colorado's "Ranching for Wildlife" program, which is that state's program for providing hunters with increased opportunities to hunt species such as antelope, bear, elk and mule deer on private land. As continuing subscribers will remember from our reports in the January, February and March 1998 issues, approximately 25 ranches totaling almost one million acres of private property are currently enrolled in this program. The landowners receive assistance with habitat management, the right to set their own season dates and a guaranteed number of hunting permits to sell or give to family and friends, although they must allow the general public to use no less than 10 percent of the allotted permits. These public hunt permits are issued through a special drawing that is held by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. As a result, hunters who are lucky enough to get drawn can hunt trophy animals on Ranching for Wildlife lands for nothing more than the cost of the permit.
Here's what has happened recently: First, the 28,000 -acre Parachute Creek Ranch in northwestern Colorado has withdrawn from the program over liability concerns. As a result, the public will no longer be able to get permits to hunt the deer and elk on this ranch. Second, the 54,000-acre Taylor Ranch in south-central Colorado has been dismissed from the program for not completing the habitat work required by the Division of Wildlife. This ranch will no longer receive guaranteed elk permits, but hunters who draw a bull elk tag for Unit 83 in general, or even a deer or bear tag, will likely be able to still gain access to the ranch, according to ranch manager Victor White. He asks that concerned hunters contact him sometime after January for more details on what kind of hunting program will be available. Finally, a large portion of the Bitter Brush Ranch in extreme northwestern Colorado has been sold to the Division of Wildlife. This ranch used to consist of more than 18,000 acres in Unit 11. In the past they received guaranteed permits for antelope through the Ranching for Wildlife program.........(continued)