DOW WARNS HUNTERS TO BE CERTAIN OF TARGET
DENVER, Colo. - With the fall rifle seasons reaching the half-way point,
the Colorado Division of Wildlife is warning big game hunters to be absolutely
certain of their target before they pull the trigger. So far this fall,
the Division has investigated more than 10 cases of hunters carelessly
or negligently shooting moose.
"We're seeing way too many preventable mistakes," said Ron
Velarde, DOW's Northwest Regional Manager. "If you aren't
100 percent sure that what you have in your sights is what you have on
your license, do not pull the trigger."
Despite years of education efforts surrounding moose reintroduction, including
direct outreach to hunters with licenses in northwest Colorado, some hunters
say they are surprised to see these big animals in areas where elk and
deer are common.
That's no excuse, said DOW Chief of Law Enforcement Jay Sarason. "We
expect hunters to positively identify their game," he said. "It's
simple - if you're not absolutely sure, don't shoot."
While cow elk and cow moose may be confused in low light or when obscured
by brush, bull elk and bull moose look nothing alike. Yet two hunters
this fall have mistakenly shot bull moose. One of those hunters is facing
charges that could bring more than $14,000 in fines and the certainty
of a license suspension hearing. Abandonment of a carcass could bring
felony charges, incarceration and the permanent loss of hunting privileges
in Colorado and 34 other states that participate in the Wildlife Violator Compact.
Proper target identification is one of the first rules that hunters learn
in hunter education courses. Properly identifying the target not only
ensures you are taking the proper species and gender but also prevents
hunters from shooting at sound or movement - something that should never happen.
Sarason noted that more than 250,000 hunters take to the field each fall
in Colorado and the total number of violations is low.
"We harvest about 50,000 elk every year," Sarason said. "The
vast majority are harvested legally and ethically. Ethical sportsmen shouldn't
feel like they're getting a black eye because a very small number
of people are too quick on the trigger."
Colorado's moose reintroduction is one of the most successful species
conservation programs in state history. Thanks to sportsmen's'
dollars and support, Colorado is now home to a growing population of more
than 1,500 moose, which have become highly sought-after by wildlife watchers.
These largest members of the deer family can be found in many parts of
Moose are common in North Park, Middle Park, Steamboat Springs, Rio Grande
National Forest, and Grand Mesa National Forest and have recently been
introduced into the White River National Forest east of Meeker. However,
hunters in all mountainous terrain should expect that they could encounter
moose while hunting deer and elk.
Because moose are relatively rare, hunting licenses for moose are very
restricted. In 2010, Colorado will issue more than 225,000 elk licenses,
but only 154 moose licenses. The lifetime bag limit for bull moose in
Colorado is one.
"Moose hunting in Colorado is literally a once-in-a-lifetime experience,"
"Every moose that a careless or negligent hunter kills is a hunt
denied to someone else."
Hunters that mistakenly kill the wrong animal are urged to immediately
contact the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Wildlife officers will seize
the erroneously killed animal and donate the meat. Hunters who mistakenly
kill a moose and don't turn themselves in are subject to heavy fines
and penalties if wildlife officers have to track them down.
"The ethical thing to do is to own up to your mistake," Velarde
said. "Report the mistake and make sure the meat doesn't go to
waste. Better yet - when in doubt, don't pull the trigger."
Hunters that see suspicious activity in the field are asked to contact
your local District Wildlife Manager, enforcement agency or Operation
Game Thief toll-free at 877-COLO-OGT (877-265-6648). Callers may remain
A fact sheet describing the differences between moose and elk is available at:
To learn more about moose in Colorado, see:
Editor's note: B-roll of moose and elk is available for media use at:
For more information about Division of Wildlife go to: