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Colorado Changing Non-resident License Allocation

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. 

Next Steps:

The Commission will take final regulatory action during its next meeting in May 2023.  

They indicated:

  • 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? 


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  1. Gary Allen Wright

    Preference point banking is an awesome idea, WHY NOT?
    Because Wyoming utilizes the “Group Averaging” I was able to take my father antelope hunting in a trophy area. It was his last hunt ever!

  2. Colorado residents are getting hosed. 75/25 is ridiculous. Lowering the high demand from 80% Resident to 75% resident is such a ripoff for Colorado residents. Who care what nonresidents think. It’s Colorado residents wildlife and only their opinion should matter. There is no basis for “compromise between resident and non-resident interests”. The argument that 75/25 across the board is better because it is simpler is a joke. Two tiered quotas are not difficult to administer. It’s simple computer code. They should have raised the lower demand to 80/20 and the high demand to 90/10. Most western states are at 90/10. AZ, ID, MT, UT, WY (sheep etc). Like NM, Colorado already has a huge number of private landowner tags that are sold mostly to nonresidents. In UT, including all of its private landowner, so called “conservation” auction, and EXPO tags, UT residents still draw 83% of all limited elk permits. Colorado is the only state that gives NM a run for its money as far as the share of tags that go to nonresidents. This is barely a step forward. 2,900 more resident tags across the number of Colorado residents that apply for draw tags is nearly a rounding error increase.

    • Couldn’t agree more. Colorado should be extremely limiting the non-resident tags. We have 5.8 million people here now and many of them moved here to hunt. Back when I started hunting here and we had 2 million in the 1970’s maybe 75/25 was workable but now it is not. It all comes down to residents pay $60 for an elk and nonresidents pay $760. Doesn’t have anything to do with anything else. So we the local hunters getting ‘managed’ into the pay to play game, which is becoming the real wildlife conservation model in the U.S.

    • It was clear if you listened to the board, Resident preference or sentiment was not even a concern to them. It was clear it was around money. They actually questioned why should they even consider resident opinion. It was only when the threat of lossing their power over the commission by state legislation, did they pull back. It’s obvious the bias of the commission has nothing to do with the residents of Colorado, but with the power ovee the commission and the money they being in. Sad state to see the commission can’t understand that they work at the pleasure of the Governor of Colorado, who is representative of the State. The State is the People of Colorado. The fact the commission doesn’t understand this show me they are unfit for this office, or they need to be educated quickly. The fact they even allow and take comment during public meetings, from Non-Residents, amazes me.

    • Matt Greenstreet

      As a resident I’m very disappointed with how this is playing out. I really thought CPW would show support for the residents and run a 80/20 & 90/10 for high demand, everyone was already expecting change. You guys really rolled over on this one, what a disgrace.

  3. I’m wanting you disgruntled Colorado residents to explain how you are so disadvantaged? It is worth noting that a majority of big game animals inhabit federal lands in Colorado, which both R & NR pay federal taxes to be managed properly. The financial equalizer put forth by CPW is in the form of those higher priced NR tags because we don’t pay your state tax. You already have a significant advantages in terms of the percentage of tags allocated to hunt on all of these federally owned and operated expanses.

    You all are so lucky to live in a western state with abundant federally owned land, go hunt. I’m so sick of you all whining about your poor plight. There are leftover tags every year in Colorado, they just are not where (unit) and when (season) you want to hunt (but the opportunity remains).

    Here are a couple of listed alternatives for you guys:

    1) Move east of Colorado and live in a state with limited federal lands (even though your federal tax dollars support them), and then pay for a private lease each year to hunt in your state. All while putting in for 15 – 20 years to accumulate points in Colorado for a decent hunt, then after investing thousands over the years to just get the right to purchase a $700 tag, have resident hunters tell you that you and your tourism dollars aren’t welcome to hunt federal lands in their state.

    2) Better yet, I think we could finally put this debate to bed and solve the federal government’s debt problem all at the same time, by selling off all of the federal public lands in Colorado to private individuals and paying down our federal debt! Then y’all can either pony up to own a piece of it or pay to hunt someone else’s land just like the majority of the country already has to do. 🤦🏻

    • You are confusing your arguments. This has absolutely no impact or bearing on “public land”. This is only a debate about the animals which are solely a State of Colorado resource, Not a Federal resource. Now that you know what the topic is, you can now delete your stupid statement.

      Signed: Colorado Resident.

      • No confusion here Foye / Colorado resident, us non residents from the other 49 states will keep paying taxes to provide federal habitat for YOUR state owned wildlife populations to inhabit happily. Y’all have a 3 to 1 advantage in the tag distribution, so what else do you want? Would 99% resident tags make you happy? Probably not!

        The state of Texas owns all of our wildlife too, but I don’t bitch because I can’t just go hunt the private ranches that make up 99% of our state even though they are inhabited by publicly owned animals. We have to buy land or pay for leases, and also compete with non residents (even Coloradans) with money who also want to hunt our great state. Why don’t y’all try that model out if those cheap resident tags and 75% of the allotment isn’t enough! The topic is greed…now you know what it really is Foye, and you definitely have a bad case of it. ✌️

        • It’s not an issue of hunting public or federal lands as you call it. The issue is obtaining a tag period, to hunt any lands public or private. Tags are issued per unit, not public or private land. How would you like to own land in Texas pay property taxes your whole life, pay application fees for 40 years, and never have an opportunity to hunt your own land. Texas hands out tags like candy during Halloween, not so much in Colorado. Some units, if you hadn’t started accumulating points 20 years ago, you will never draw a tag even as a resident, or a land owner.

  4. Point banking helps all involved, outfitters and the hunters in no man’s land. Let the hunters get something for all the time and money they invested in the system. If Colorado invests the money they received at application time it’s a win for all!

  5. I’m a non-resident. Been hunting CO since 1971. Spent plenty of money in CO to support the residents. Same old debate; residents want all those non-residents to get out but they sure enjoy the money. Most residents don’t appreciate how much CO benefits from non-residents, hunting, skiing, sight seeing. CPW has to have funds to operate. And the non-residents are a big part of that equation. If the residents were to get their wish, I imagine a resident tag would cost $1000+ to keep CPW afloat. Or State taxes would go up considerably. Be careful what you wish for. So what does the CO Outfitters Assn think about those non-residents? Are the residents hiring outfitters to support their neighbors income? Or would you also be pleased if all the outfitters went broke?

  6. I understand both sides of the argument regarding the resident / NR quota. If I was a resident of CO, I too would argue for more resident tags. However, we must all understand, it *is* all about the money when it comes to managing big game and hunting opportunity. NR’s do pay a lot for the opportunity to hunt CO, and if the opportunity goes away, residents will have to pick-up that cost. As well, NR’s pump a lot of dollars into local economies when they come to CO to hunt and recreate. Let’s also remember that federal lands belong to all of us.
    Regarding opportunity, I’ve been paying for points in CO for 23 years, with an aim at drawing one of the best possible elk or deer hunts. With point creep, I realized I will likely never draw an absolute top tier tag while I am still young enough to enjoy the hunt. I finally used 20 points to draw a decent deer unit in 2022. So, I’ve been able to hunt CO once in the past 23 years (without pursuing an over the counter or left-over tag). That’s a significant investment, and not a lot of opportunity. And, since there are so few NR premium tags, and no point averaging, I am pretty much forced to hunt solo for the more premium hunt units. I would really like to have more flexibility with the use of my points. Point banking is an interesting idea. Point averaging for parties is an absolute no-brainer. If I want to use my 23 banked points to draw a lesser hunt, I should be able to average them with a friend who has fewer points so I don’t need to hunt solo, or be able to save some of the points I don’t need for that hunt. Wouldn’t this help ease the point creep issue, and provide more hunting opportunity for those of us “stuck” in this point accumulation game?

  7. Mike It’s funny. The area we hunt in Colorado we never run into a resident hunter. Over the past 15 years the town is on a spiral decline. Last year 2022 half of the towns buildings were boarded up with plywood. The grocery store and pot buildings are doing fine. Once the wolves arrive you can have Colorado all to your selves. Don’t come crying to non resident to help.

  8. I’m a CO native, and we need both resident and non-resident hunters. I think ALL states should give more tags to the residents. I see both sides of this debate. I’ve seen the point creep go up in CO as more people have moved here. I’ve also seen the point creep go up in WY. In 2013 I drew an antelope tag after 4 years, nice area but, not a trophy area. I started applying again and this time it took me until 2021 to draw that same tag. More people hunting and applying, that is a good thing. I’ve also hunted TX, but through outfitters and pheasant in KS and NEB. The one thing to consider is whether you are a resident or a non-resident in the state you hunt is that hunting is under attack by the liberal, anti 2A, tree huggers. In WA right now there is a movement under way to have that wildlife commission not be as pro hunter, and we’ve seen the articles about how OR wants to ban hunting and fishing. CO now has the wolf problem to deal with, thanks to ballot box biology. I’m not sure what the correct ratio of R to NR hunters is, but lets quit this in fighting and start dealing with the anti-hunting, anti-2A movement that is spreading across this country. Also we have to get the younger generation involved. Thanks.

  9. WY keeps being wishy washy with the 90/10 allocation. Finally passed for moose, sheep and goat but more work needed for elk, deer and pronghorn. Keep writing your legislature, attend g&f meetings, remind them its your vote that gets them elected. Hopefully, all big game tags in all western states will go 90/10. MT seems to get it…cut nr tags, jack the price and force them to go with an outfitter to ensure they spend money in the state.

  10. As a non-resident hunter in Colorado for over forty years…and having always paid for the more expensive tags…I believe I am entitled to an opinion that is reasonable! Here it is: I have no problem with residents wanting much more of the tags! The 75/25 gives non-residents too much of a percentage. Non-resident should get at least 15%. I base this on a comparison of cost between resident and non-resident tags…non-residents get hosed! Other costs for non-residents bring many many dollars into the state, also! Those expenses are too many to mention! So, a system of 85/15 % is a reasonable system! My only complaint now is the commission does not limit the number of hunters on each non-draw units! Many years (and high expense for other things) ends up with open units over-crowding! This is my two cents!

  11. I think that CO CPW is undervaluing the available resources.

    I am certain they could charge nonresidents 10k for units requiring 10 or more pref points and 15k for the big three (goat, moose, sheep). They will always fill those tags. Sure there will be less people applying but all those tags will still be filled. In addition, why not require nonresidents to hunt with a resident or guide on the previously mentioned hunts like other states?

    I am shocked that according to CPW 41% of residents selected 75/25 as the fairest allocation- those people surveyed aren’t the true residents, they are transplants that moved to CO from over regulated havens- those are the same voters that aren’t bothered by the wolves initiative. I am certain that near 90% of the “born and raised” Colorado hunters would say 95/5 should be the allocation.


    Why does anyone even waste there time attending these meetings, or filling out surveys. CPW has already made up there mind on what they are going to do WELL BEFORE meetings and surveys are even out. They only ask the public to appease some folks. They dont care what you have to say. That right there is fact…..

    .EXAMPLE .. preference point banking, 48% basically are for it, 42% are not. so cpw says not enough people are for it to change it, ummmm, correct me if i am wrong, but isnt 48% higher than 42% and doesnt 48% WIN that vote??????? so it should lean more to passing the preference point banking, but INSTEAD cpw already made there mind up before the survey they dont want to do that, so why not just say not enough people for it, even though end results show is there..

    Dont get much more obvious than that….nuff said……

  13. Most comments missed the real issue at hand. There are less people hunting now than there was 30 years ago, but what you now have is the internet and people applying to hunt in 5 to 10 states. How do you think all those influencers are able to put out a steady stream of content? What we have is a bunch of trophy gluttons that are traveling from state to state looking for bragging rights.

    I grew up in Colorado right between 2 draw areas so I understand the animosity. Nothing worse then having 100 elk hiding on your property yet you don’t own enough land to get a land owner tag nor can you draw one. For me I wasn’t only the Texans that flooded north every October it was the transplanted weekend warriors out of Denver and Boulder.

    For some Hunting is all about trophies and bragging rights, for others it’s about traditions and time spent with friends and family. So maybe a partial solution is not reduce non-residents tag numbers but restrict what they can shoot to 5 points or less on elk and 3 points or less on deer. Take the trophy and money out of it.

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