The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission is meeting on August 25, 2023, in Steamboats Springs to discuss the possible removal of Over The Counter (OTC) elk tags in Colorado.  Resident OTC elk hunters (rifle + archery) have declined by 8,000 since 2014, but nonresident OTC elk hunters in Colorado are up by 10,000 since 2014.  Many residents OTC hunters have quit hunting in Colorado because the OTC units have been overrun by nonresidents in Colorado.  See this detailed report .

One concern of many resident hunters in Colorado is that their voices are not being heard during public forums and surveys. No officials at CPW are discussing the declining resident hunter trends since 2014 in both rifle and archery OTC elk hunts.  Since 2014, Non-Residents have continued to flood Colorado’s public lands during OTC elk hunting (rifle and archery) and residents are dropping out because of the overcrowding.    A perfect example of this is what we just saw on the five Grand Mesa units (421, 421, 41, 52, 411) in Colorado in 2022.   Nonresidents OTC archery hunters were up 250% since 2014 and residents were down 20%.  Yet in 2022 CPW took away all archery OTC hunting on the Grand Mesa, when the numbers clearly showed that non-residents are the cause of all the overcrowding.  This was in Eastmans Hunting Journal Blog regarding the story.

Is CPW missing the mark and ignoring the residents that they are supposed to work for?   If you review the CPW’s mission statement you won’t find any reference to serving the residents of Colorado- none.  All elected officials and the governor have a duty to represent their constituents (residents) and ensure they are treated fairly (equity) when compared to other states.  During CPW public forums and surveys the nonresidents have more than one seat at the table because most outfitters are also fighting for the nonresident dollars. Why are nonresidents even at the table, no other western state serves up such a seat to nonresident hunters.  This 2022 CPW tag allocation survey report is a perfect example, by including nonresidents it waters down the wishes of the residents because they are on opposite sides of most issues.  Do you actually think nonresidents would support OTC for residents only?  Colorado holds full legislative jurisdiction over big game tag allocation on all public and private lands in Colorado just like all other states.  Just because there are federal lands in Colorado does not give a nonresident a “right” to hunt in Colorado, they have an equal right to visit the federal public lands but the state and its voting residents have the authority over the tags, just like all other western states, many of which have millions of acres more federal lands and provide only 10% of their tags to nonresidents and cap all general season nonresident tags in general season/otc hunts.  Residents in Colorado have not had a fair seat at the table since the 1990s when CPW past the worst tag allocation split in US history which gave nonresidents 35% of limited big game tags when all other western states average a tag allocation of 10% to nonresidents.

Colorado is selling about 72,000 nonresident elk tags each year, this is more than all western states combined, most western states only sell 5,000 to 17,000 elk tags to non-residents each year.  2021 acres per elk hunter western states public land

54% of OTC archery elk hunters in Colorado are Nonresidents. Residents archery hunters are dropping out because of overcrowding on Colorado's Public lands

54% of OTC archery elk hunters in Colorado are Nonresidents. Residents archery hunters are dropping out because of overcrowding on Colorado’s Public lands

This August 2022 CPW OTC Report confirms the declining trends of resident hunters in all OTC hunts in Colorado since 2013/2014 and it confirms the surging Nonresident trends by nonresidents in all OTC hunts in Colorado.  Its also show that 54% of OTC archery elk hunters in Colorado are nonresident.  Compare this to Utah which in 2022 had 45,000 general season resident elk hunters and 2500 nonresident general season elk hunters or compare it to Wyoming which only sells about 5000 elk tags each year to nonresidents.

 August 2022 Presentation for Over The Counter OTC Distribution Workshop

All residents of Colorado need to sign this OTC petition to save OTC hunting in Colorado for residents and residents need to join the Colorado Resident Hunter Association Facebook group to stay informed.  It’s time for resident hunters to stand up and be heard.


Does Colorado Sell more Nonresident Elk Tags than all other Western States Combined?

Colorado has 280,000 elk. They offer 105,000 limited elk tags of which at least 27,000 (does not include leftover-post draw) go to Nonresidents. Colorado sells 96k OTC elk tags of which nonresidents get 45,000. Colorado sells a total of 72,000 nonresident elk tags and sell about 200k total elk tags. NRs get 36% of total elk tags.

Wyoming has 120,000 elk, They sell 12,500 limited tags of which 1600 go to nonresidents. NRs get 3800 tags from the 45000 general season elk tags. Wyoming sells 5400 elk tags total to NRs and they sell about 57,500 total elk tags. NRs get 9% of total elk tags.

Utah has 85000 elk, they sell 3750 limited tags of which 350 go to NR’s. Nonresident got 2500 of their 45000 general season elk tags in 2022. Utah sell 2850 elk tags total to nonresidents. Utah sells 48,750 total elk tags, NRs get 6% of the total elk tags. 

Idaho has a total of 107,000 elk. They sell 88,500 elk tags each year of which 12,800 go to nonresidents. NR’s get 13% of the total elk tags. 

Montana has 170,000 elk. They sell 113,000 elk tags each year of which 17,000 go to nonresidents. NRs get 15% of the total elk tags. 

Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana combined have a population of 482,000 elk, they sell 37,900 elk tags to Nonresidents .  Colorado has only 280,000 elk and they sell 72,000 elk tags to nonresidents.  

Disclosure -The data within this article is from various sources (CPW website, online research, and print.  Some data can be very fragmented to collect.  All info is subject to errors and you should verify all numbers with your own research.  It is desired that CPW someday validate this information to share the trends of Westerns States compared to Colorado to show the equity status for the resident hunters.




Colorado Petition to Save Over-the-Counter OTC Elk Hunting for Residents Only

No State Treats Resident Big Game Hunters Worse than Colorado- Tag Allocation- Hiding in Plain Sight. The Secret to the Elk and Deer Tags in Colorado.