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Comments sought on Gunnison Basin elk management plan

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Photo by David Hannigan, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Colorado Parks and Wildlife has posted its draft plan for elk management in the Gunnison Basin on its website for public review.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife has completed its draft elk management plan for Game Management Units 54, 53 and 63 and it is posted on the CPW web site for a 30-day comment period. Comments must be submitted by Nov. 27.

To view the plan, go to http://cpw.state.co.us then enter "herd management plans" in the search bar and follow the link.

About every 10 years, CPW big-game biologists develop new management plans that establish objectives for the elk population in specific areas. These objectives are utilized by CPW to set annual license numbers.

CPW has solicited input from the public on this plan during the last year. So far more than 600 people, including hunters, landowners, and the general public, have provided comments to CPW on the plan through public scoping meetings and online surveys.

Based on the public input received and available data collected on the elk herd, CPW staff is recommending that the elk population increase by 17 percent. Additionally, to provide more accurate assessment of elk in the Gunnison Basin, biologists are grouping the elk in these three GMUs into one herd. Previously, elk in GMU 54 were considered as a separate herd from elk in GMUs 52 and 63. The herd will be referred to as the "West Elk Mountain herd."

"Various studies on elk movement have documented that the elk population, and the public interested in these herds, will be better served by managing the West Elk Mountains as one elk herd, rather than two distinct herds," said Kevin Blecha, CPW's terrestrial biologist in Gunnison.

All public entities and private individuals interested in commenting on this draft plan may do so. Affected parties representing agricultural/rangeland interests and economic interests are especially encouraged to submit comment letters. The draft plan can potentially be revised in response to comments received over the 30-day period.

The draft plan will go to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in January and March for review and approval.

Comments on the draft plan can be submitted by e-mail to: Kevin.blecha@state.co.us; or mailed to Attn: Kevin Blecha, 300 W. New York Ave., Gunnison, CO, 81230. Comments must be submitted by Nov. 27.

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elk management, wildlife
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