Colorado Elk Wars: Bullets, Bucks, and Battles For Wildlife Supremacy


    In the rugged heartland of Colorado, a cherished elk-hunting legacy finds itself locked in a fierce struggle against nature’s toughest adversaries. The battleground is a dynamic mix of relentless drought, brutal winters, encroaching fences, and the ever-encroaching threat of sprawling residential development—all conspiring to challenge the mettle of these majestic creatures.

    Recent intel from the front lines reveals that Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has unveiled a hard-hitting 10-year herd management plan, laying bare the grim reality of a limited arsenal to combat this multi-faceted onslaught. The weapon of choice in their arsenal: strategic hunting licenses, a tactical approach to regulate herd populations and maintain the elusive bull-to-cow ratios. 

    Yet, a chink in the armor emerges as CPW grapples with the Achilles’ heel – the absence of effective measures to govern the critical cow-calf ratios, a barometer of herds’ sustained health. As Sky-Hi News illuminates, these ratios have plummeted since the ’80s, signaling a threat to the resilience of wild herds.

    CPW wildlife biologist Julie Mao, reveals that “the ratio 40 years ago was roughly 60 calves for every 100 cows […and…] today is in the mid- to upper-30s.” A gut-check moment exposing that “herds today are less resilient.”

    As the ongoing study fuels the debate, voices like Marcia Gilles, Director of the Open Space and Natural Resources Department for Eagle County, call for county government heavy artillery. Gilles proposes the county must play an active role, contributing to “habitat efforts through funding or with land-use regulations and policy.”