Category Archives: Wildlife management

Time to give Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission the responsibility they should have had in the first place

March 27, 2017

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

As a caucus member of the Colorado Sportsmen’s Roundtable, I sat through an afternoon of information sharing at our session in Glenwood Springs last Saturday.

Once again, I have to qualify what I am about to say and explain what may look like a switch in position on my part because I was so adamantly opposed to the merger of the Colorado State Parks and the Division of Wildlife. I fully understood why that merger was deemed necessary, but that did not make me like it any better. I know there is still some confusion, but one thing that is important is that, in spite of the merger, the funding for parks and wildlife is separate – they do not work under a combined budget.

What they do work under is what is called an enterprise agency. In other words, they exist on funding from users. The problem is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife, as it is now known, does not under the current system have the ability to set fees. That has, and could continue to be a problem because, as it stands now, when you pay for your hunting licenses and parks passes the money is then allocated through the budget process by legislation, as are the fees for those licenses and passes.

In the past, the representatives from the agencies would go before the legislature asking for license fee increases and the legislators, as they often do, have visions of being beat over the head with a ballot box so they are reluctant to vote for the increase. That has created a problem because, rather than increase fees a little each year the agency now finds itself in a crunch where more services are being demanded with less revenue because there has not been an increase in license fees since 2005 and in parks passes since 2010. Meanwhile, spending power has decreased by an estimated 22 percent. Now the sportsmen and women of this state are faced with large increases all at one time.

We need to give the CPW commissioners the power to raise fees in a very regulated manner and take the politics out as much as possible. Either today, or in the next few days a bill, now called the CPW Financial Sustainability Bill, will be introduced into the House. This bill, in a nutshell, gives the Commission limited authority to set parks, hunting, fishing and aquatic nuisance sticker fees under the following guidelines:

Individual park fees would be capped at no more than 50 percent.

Application fees would be capped at $20 and hunting and fishing licenses capped at no more than 50 percent increase.

Senior fishing licenses would be set at 1/2 the price of resident prices.

ANS stickers fees will also be capped.

And most important is that the bill will allow future fee changes (under the caps) to be based on the Consumer Price Index. This is the guideline used for several years for non-resident fees and it has worked relatively well.

I believe that it is important that us hunters, anglers general outdoors enthusiasts support this bill, and there are a few people that need to know now that we support it:

First of all, let Marc Catlin know how we feel. He probably assumes he knows, but give him some support so he can tell his new friends in the House.

The bill will begin its travels in the House Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources Committee. Jeni James Arndt (D) Dist. 53 is the chair of that committee – send her an email – let her know. jeni.arndt.house@state.co.us.

The vice chair is Diane Mitsch Bush (D) Dist. 26. She needs to know too:

diane.mitschbush.house@state.co.us

The Minority Caucus chair is Yeulin Willett (R) Delta and Mesa Counties. Willett needs to be able to stand up for the minority and tell them how involved the sportsmen are in this process. yeulin.willett.house@state.co.us.

I happen to like Bob Broscheid, who is the Director of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. I think he has been up front and honest with us, and that he has a very difficult position, but one that he is very qualified. He has certainly been hampered by the merger and by other things that seem to have taken center stage, but this financial sustainability is important and we need to get it right. For my part, I think this is the right bill. I think it has been too long coming, but must get passed now. Otherwise, we will only dig a deeper hole. Broscheid said something Saturday that scares my hunting boots off. He said, “If we don’t pay attention now, the sportsmen and women of this state risk becoming inconsequential.”

This bill may not be perfect and it may seem that we are putting too much trust in the members of the CPW Commission, but when it comes down to it, those commissioners probably understand the plight of those of us who think like I do much more than the typical politician.

If you have an uncontrolled desire to contact all of the House Ag Committee, just go to the Colorado House website. There you can find the necessary information to call or email each and every one of them.

Another good source of information is Doug Vilsack, the DNR Legislative Liaison: (720)456-8596 or douglas.vilsack@state.co.us 

Remember, I only send out these missives via email to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

 

Bob

 

© Robert R. Cox 2017

 

 

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No lions and tigers, just bears in Colorado

August 3, 2015

By Bob Cox

Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.

 

Some of my friends and acquaintances with the Colorado Parks and Wildlife get a little nervous when I start telling them that they are falling prey to the “political correct” crowd on way too many fronts.

An ongoing controversy surrounds the control of bears in Colorado. The latest so-called effort is almost laughable. Earlier this year Rep. Yeulin Willett, R-Grand Junction, introduced legislation that would have established a general purpose hunt for black bears during the month of August. There was also a provision that allowed for liquid scents to be used and for optional hunts stretching into October. The solution, as is more and more typical in today’s political environment, also becomes the problem. Opponents of the bill immediately started to scream that the bears were “more vulnerable” during that time and that it would therefore be unfair to hunt them then.

Ultimately, the bill stalled in committee and Willet and his group settled for a completely different statute that provided for a “study” of the problem. That new law went into effect last Wednesday. If studies killed bears, we damn sure would not have the problem. They have been studied for decades and the studies of the studies have been analyzed and re-evaluated so many times that nobody involved can definitively describe the results. So, the obvious answer is to do another study – right?

There are an estimated 18,000 black bears in Colorado and the current management of that population falls on CPW through hunting. The problem with that is that CPW is at the same time severely restricted in how it can use hunting as a management tool. The bear-in-the-room problem is one that CPW personnel is loath to discuss because it is not popular with a lot of people who considered bears little snuggly things back in 1992.

That problem I refer to was known in 1992 as Initiative 10. It became part of the Colorado Constitution through a process that is more than a century old. In the 1970s a lot of people figured out how to manipulate the initiative process and attempt to nullify the idea of representative government in favor of mob-rule, or democracy.

The initiative process in Colorado is famous for, as one federal court opined, “exceeding the reasonable regulation guidelines.” But, for some reason, this initiative, which I think resulted in black bears having constitutional rights, has not been successfully challenged and we cannot approach bear management in Colorado through hunting unless that crazy amendment is trashed. Getting rid of the restriction on spring bear hunting is not something wildlife managers seem willing to support. It just does not coincide with the mandates they are receiving from those Eastern Slope do-gooders.

First of all, initiatives are put on the ballot through a signature process. There are firms out there that will almost guarantee success by getting all the signatures based on the demographics of the state. If the initiative is one that is popular in the extreme liberal side of the spectrum, then the signatures will be gathered mostly in places that have a history of voting for extreme liberal proposals. Of course the opposite is also true. The overwhelming majority of the signatures for Initiative 10 came from large Front-Range Counties that had relatively few hunters and relatively large numbers of extreme environmentalists and animal rights groups.

There were a total of 1,512,292 ballots cast on Initiative 10. Of those voting, 1,054,032 voted in favor and only 458,260 against the initiative. The figures, for what they are worth, show that 70 percent of Coloradoans favored giving constitutional rights to bears. Nothing can be further from the truth, but getting enough support to nullify it will be difficult at best.

What it all boils down to is that CPW will not be able to manage the surging bear population under existing law. They will not be able to substantially curb the bear/human contacts under existing law, and they will not be able to study the bears into slacking off on their need to find food. CPW will be able to do only what they are doing now. Ranchers will continue to lose livestock. Idiots will continue to feed the bears in their backyards, campers will continue to invite nocturnal wrestling matches and legislators will continue to avoid the real issue. All that is the result of my “study.”

Remember, I only send out these missives to those who have asked for them. I do not share your email addresses with anyone and I use the Reagan email precisely because they don’t share or sell the addresses either. If you are getting this because someone forwarded it to you and you don’t want it, tell him or her not to forward any more. On the other hand, if you received a copy and would like to see more of my ranting, simply drop me a line at coxnotes@Reagan.com I will put you on my exclusive, but growing list.

Bob

© Robert R. Cox 2015