DENVER (KDVR) — Hunting season started on Sept. 3, and Colorado licenses are still available. Before you turn your nose at the thought of hunting, it turns out that the environment benefits from hunters nationwide.
That being said, hunting only benefits the environment when it is done correctly.
Kara Van Hoose, a public information officer with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said it didn’t always help the environment.
In the early 1900s, North America was overhunted and wildlife was seen as temporary, said Van Hoose. In response, the states created the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation. Agencies like CPW follow the model when granting hunting licenses.
For each animal, CPW divides up the land into units with only a specific number of licenses. The number of licenses is decided each year by biologists, wildlife officers and area wildlife managers who complete on-the-ground, helicopter and hunter surveys. CPW also uses observational and herd migratory historical tracking data to see how many animals are in the area.
“If we didn’t have this whole unit process that I laid out and how many licenses we give out, those populations would be over. So this is a way to really regulate the number of harvests that are done each year by hunters in a certain area,” said Van Hoose.
By creating these licenses, CPW is able to control the population and fund money from the licenses back into the wildlife.
From a conservation standpoint, hunting isn’t just about protecting the overall animal population from excessive killing and filtering money into the area. It’s also about regulating large populations that could be damaging the surrounding environment.
“For example, if there are too many deer in a certain area, they’re all sapping the resources from that area and the vast majority of them cannot thrive and really become healthy. So if you have fewer deer in that area, then it’s a better habitat, more resources and stronger deer,” said Van Hoose.
When it comes to hunting animals, it isn’t just about killing them, said Van Hoose. When you harvest an animal in Colorado, you are required to use the majority of its meat for consumption. Animals are often repurposed for most of their parts.
CPW uses deer antlers to track diseases. Some hunters may be asked to provide parts of their deer for disease tracking as well.
As of early September, the big game season has started. Animals like bears, pronghorns, elk, deer and bighorn sheep are able to be hunted with a license.