The Ranching For Wildlife Program, you will recall, was implemented specifically to provide hunters with opportunities to hunt antelope, bear, elk and mule deer on private land with a high chance of success and limited competition. Up to 25 different Colorado ranches are currently enrolled in this popular program. The landowners benefit because they are able to sell an assigned number of permits to hunters (locals and out-of-staters alike) at a premium rate. In exchange, ranchers manage their lands for wildlife and allow a specified number of public hunters on their properties without charging them any fees. Public hunters are selected by means of a draw permit, and it is this drawing from which nonresidents have been barred.
We spoke with the Colorado Wildlife Division's Public Information Specialist, Chamois Pierson, to find out what was behind this decision. She says the problem is nonresidents have been acquiring the lion's share of permits to hunt these properties, and "balance" was needed between resident and nonresident opportunities. Specifically, she says nonresidents bought 90 percent of all the private tags available from landowners in 1999 and, on top of that, managed to draw a significant percentage of the Ranching for Wildlife public tags. She made a point of mentioning the public tags to hunt bull elk on these lands. Seems nonresidents did manage to draw 52 percent of them.
What about public tags to hunt other species on Ranching for Wildlife lands, we asked? The percentages there are very different. Seems residents managed to draw 93 percent of the public deer tags, 98 percent of the antelope tags and 100 percent of the bear tags. This hardly substantiates the state's argument that nonresidents have been hogging all the Ranching for Wildlife tags. The only tags nonresidents have been hogging, it turns........(continued)