Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission Meeting, 15-16 March 2023
During today’s meeting in Aurora, the Colorado Parks & Wildlife Commission addressed many topics; to include Preference Point Banking, Group Averaging, and Big Game License Allocations. Prior to this meeting, CPW’s Staff conducted public outreach on these topics, which could be implemented as early as the 2024 big game hunting season. The results of the public comments gathered were:
- 68.7% of respondents identified as Colorado residents, with 31.3% non-residents.
- Preference Point Banking. A system where hunters use only that portion of their preference points needed plus 2- 3 additional points to draw and retain their remaining accumulated points. 48% were somewhat or strongly in support and 42% somewhat or strongly opposed.
- Group Averaging. About half (50%) of respondents somewhat or strongly supported averaging group points, while 35% were somewhat or strongly opposed.
- Big Game License Allocation between residents and nonresidents in Colorado. Overall, 75/25 (R/NR) Across-the-Board Allocation was the most popular choice among respondents, followed by 90/10 (R/NR) High Demand Allocation (retain 65/35 (R/NR) split for all other hunt codes) and then Status Quo.
Staff Recommendations discussed during today’s meeting follow:
- Preference Points (Banking and Group Averaging) CPW recommends maintaining the status quo. CPW does not recommend carrying forward either preference point banking or preference point group averaging. CPW staff believe that major changes to Colorado’s license allocation process (such as those proposed) should be supported by clear evidence that hunters are strongly in favor of such changes. Based on the comment form results, there is no clear majority of respondents who support either preference point banking or group averaging.
- License Allocation CPW recommends transitioning from the current license allocation system [80/20 (R/NR) allocation for high-demand hunt codes; 65/35 (R/NR) allocation for all other hunt codes] to a simpler 75/25 (R/NR) across-the-board allocation for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear. CPW recommends this change for several reasons.
–Based on the 2023 comment form results, 69% of resident hunters ranked status quo as their least preferred option, showing that residents want CPW to take some kind of additional action on license allocation. Furthermore, 86% of residents and 74% of non-residents ranked a 75/25 (R/NR) across-the-board allocation as either their first or second choice.
–In the 2022 Big Game Attitudes Survey, when asked to select the fairest license allocation for resident and non-resident hunters, more than half (59%) of residents selected the option that most favored residents (80/20 (R/NR)), and more than three-quarters (83%) of non-residents selected the option that most favored non-residents (65/35 (R/NR)). However, 41% of resident hunters indicated an allocation split at or below the 75/25 breakdown as the fairest approach. Note that only 10% of resident hunters supported the allocation option of 65/35 (R/NR), indicating that residents want a change from the status quo.
–An across-the-board, single allocation of 75/25 (R/NR) would decrease the number of licenses for current high-demand hunt codes allocated to residents by 5% (~100 fewer licenses drawn by residents), but for all other hunt codes it would increase licenses allocated to residents by 10% (~3,000 licenses). This approach could be a good compromise between resident and non-resident interests. Additionally, an across-the-board, single allocation maintains a higher level of predictability for the draw over time, simplifies CPW operations and regulations, and increases customer understanding of the license allocation.
–Considering all of the information available for a very polarizing issue, and recognizing that resident hunters desire a more substantial allocation than the status quo, CPW recommends transitioning from the current license allocation system to a simpler 75/25 across-the-board allocation for deer, elk, pronghorn and bear (i.e., the 80/20 R/NR allocation for high-demand hunt codes would be eliminated). CPW sees a 75/25 across-the-board allocation as a good compromise between resident and non-resident interests with the benefits outlined above.
The Commission will take final regulatory action during its next meeting in May 2023.
- Preference point banking. They would like CPW to present additional info on the pros & cons.
- Group Averaging. They indicated they will likely support the status quo (no averaging).
- License Allocation. The impression was they will adopt CPW’s recommendation of a 75/25 (R/NR) across-the-board allocation.
The only question remaining is. . . what’s your take?