Colorado Sells More Nonresident Elk Licenses

Than All Western States Combined

Recent research shared by the Colorado Resident Hunter Association Facebook group reveals that Colorado sells more nonresident elk tags than all seven western states combined.  The numbers are staggering when you look at this table.

7 Western States Nonresident ELK Tags Sales Vs Colorado

7 Western States Nonresident ELK Tags Sales Vs Colorado


Even though these seven western states have an elk population that is 2.5 times that of Colorado (742,000 elk vs 280,000 elk), the 7 western states collectively sell 5,100 less elk licenses to nonresidents, than Colorado sells to nonresidents.  How can one state sell its resident hunters equity like this?  Clearly Colorado find nonresident dollars more valuable than resident hunters since Colorado resident Over The Counter elk hunters have declined by 8,000 since 2014, this is the result of overcrowding by nonresident elk hunters within OTC units, as the nonresidents are up by 10,000 since 2014.  The nonresident surge has been going on for 20 years+ and this is why Colorado brings in more hunting dollars than any other state in the Country.  Even with a $52 million dollar surplus in 2022 they continue to sell resident equity for nonresident dollars.

Disclosure -The data within this article is from various sources (CORA, CPW Stats, 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 residents.

Can resident hunters of Colorado apply for Governor Polis’s Equity Grants to help pay for a nonprofit that will properly sue to restore equity for resident hunters?   This is the biggest “Apples to Oranges” hunting tag allocation comparison of all time; it shows an unmatched bias against Colorado residents. 

If CPW commissioners or state legislators were to demand equity for residents, Colorado would have to fall in line with the western states’ averages for nonresident tag sales.  This would be done either based on actual elk populations or based on total elk tag sales.  Colorado sells 72,000 elk tags to nonresidents each year—based on “total elk tag sales”, Colorado would only be able to sell (201,000* 14%) = 28,140 elk tags to nonresidents each year if it were to treat residents equitably.  Based on “elk populations”, Colorado would only be able to sell (280,000*9%) = 25,200 elk tags to nonresidents each year to meet equity guidelines.

Be sure to read these other articles (below) to understand how the overcrowding in Colorado is caused by ever surging nonresident elk tag sales.  Resident participation has been declining 10-25%, since 2014, while nonresidents have increased 21-28% during that time, and now residents would rather stay home than battle the sea of orange/camo in Colorado’s public land OTC units.  See this data research that shows how Colorado has 3-6 times the hunting pressure observed in other Western States.  This 2022 CPW OTC Study shows Resident OTC elk archery hunters in Colorado are down 25% since 2016.  Since 2014 resident OTC hunters are down 8000 and nonresident are up 10,000.  No other state in the country is replacing its resident hunters with nonresident dollars. 

Conflict of Interest on CPW Commission Board


If Colorado removed all nonresident big game tags it would be safe to say outfitters would go out of business.  So we know outfitters benefit financially from more nonresident tags, this is an undisputed fact.   The Colorado Constitution declares Colorado government officials shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people of the State (residents).   Should appointed outfitters on the CPW Commission that benefit financially from expanding tag allocation for Nonresident hunters, recuse themselves from voting on big game tag allocation and on OTC hunting in Colorado?  The Colorado Constitution is clear on this issue.

Article XXIX, Ethics in Government, Section 1 of the Colorado Constitution reads (1) The people of the State of Colorado hereby find and declare that:

(a) The conduct of public officers, members of the general assembly, local gov’t officials, and government employees must hold the respect and confidence of the people.

(b) They shall carry out their duties for the benefit of the people of the state.

(c) They shall, therefore, avoid conduct that is in violation of their public trust or that creates a justifiable impression among members of the public that such trust is being violated.

(d) Any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office other than compensation provided by law is a violation of that trust.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission Policy- A.“Conflict of interest” means a situation where a Commissioner’s personal interest is incompatible with a Commissioner’s public duty. Voting members of the Commission shall not perform an official act which may have a direct economic benefit on any business, including nonprofits, in which such member has a direct or substantial financial interest. CRS § 24-18-108.5(2)   —​Conflict of Interest

 How to file a complaint with the Colorado Ethics Commission.  Click Here

We Believe Hunters are Equal, Regardless of  Residency

A draft letter from the Colorado Outfitter Association, as a member of the Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project (CWCP), addressed to Jeff Davis-Director of the Colorado Park and Wildlife (CPW), Dan Gibbs – Executive Director Colorado Department of National Resources (DNR), and the CPW Commission was recently shared on the Colorado Resident Hunter Association Facebook GroupIn the letter, they plead with the Directors and Commissioners and declare “We believe hunters are all equal, regardless of their means of take, season, or residency”.

This letter reveals what many Colorado resident hunters have known since the 1990’s, that many conservation groups and outfitters associations are loyal to nonresidents and their money.  Many Colorado residents also feel that CPW is loyal to the nonresidents dollars as well, don’t forget no state brings in more hunting dollars and no western state has tag allocation with less equity for residents.

This nonresident loyalty does not apply to any other State “privilege”.  We would never consider a nonresident with an equal voice to vote and it makes no sense that nonresidents have an equal opportunity to Coloradans’ limited resources.  Under the most basic tenets of the Public Trust Doctrine and the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, wildlife is a state resource managed and allocated for the benefit of its residents.  Nonresidents are not trust beneficiaries in any way, shape or form. 

Many nonresidents feel they have a right to hunt in Colorado because of federal public lands.  If you spend some time on this website you will learn that 97.2% of Colorado federal lands are not federal enclaves, which means Colorado holds legislative jurisdiction over tag allocation within its border just like the other 49 states.  The elected legislators of all states work on behalf of their residents to enhance the health, safety, and security of our communities.  Wild game is a natural resource managed by the states, not the federal government. 

The Colorado Outfitter Association draft letter (link),(written as a Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project Member), claims they are trying to “counter the movement that requests that all Over the Counter (OTC) licenses be reserved for Resident hunters alone”.  This of course is not true, because if you read the online Resident Hunter OTC Petition (link), which has over 3000 signatures, it saysBy signing this petition, you are expressing your support for preserving all remaining OTC elk hunting (archery and rifle) for Colorado Residents only, starting in 2024. We believe this measure will restore equity without infringing upon the rights or experiences of non-resident hunters who can still participate through limited draw hunts and non-resident caps on all OTC hunts“.  If you haven’t signed the above-linked resident hunter petition please do so and share the link with your friends.  This petition still allows nonresident opportunity at OTC hunts, just with a quota cap like nearly all other western states.

The letter also states the following, “The Colorado Wildlife Conservation Project (CWCP) is an alliance of diverse wildlife organizations with a common interest in conserving and sustaining wildlife and wildlife habitats and preserving our hunting, angling, and conservation heritage. We are steadfast in our efforts to continue the state’s long history of responsible, science-based wildlife management. CWCP comprises organizations representing tens of thousands of outdoor enthusiasts across the state and country. “

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Colorado OTC-trends-CO-elk-2002-to-2021

Colorado OTC-trends-CO-elk-2002-to-2021






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




Colorado’s Fake Big Game Tag Allocation Caps, Stealing Resident License Equity