Boulder County closes preserve three days a week for elk hunting

Matt Whittaker

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A bull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park.Tim Lumley / Flickr

By Matt Whittaker / NewsBreak Denver

(Boulder County, Colo.) Officials said Boulder County is closing the Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain to the public for three days a week starting this month for the sixth year of an elk population management program.

The park will be closed Monday through Wednesday from Sept. 19 through Jan. 25 for the program, which includes limited hunting, the county said.

“If hunters are successful early in the week, the park will be reopened the following day,” the county said. 

The reserve will also be open to the public during Thanksgiving week Monday, November 21, through Wednesday, November 23; during Christmas week Monday, December 26 through Wednesday, December 28; and for Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 16.

While recreational hunting is prohibited at the preserve and other open space property, the county gave three randomly chosen Colorado Parks and Wildlife-licensed hunters per week access to the area during the management period.

“This hunting program is solely and specifically permitted as a resource management tool,” the county said.

Boulder County implemented the yearly hunts in the 2017-2018 season after the elk population grew from 25 to 350 in a decade by learning to avoid hunters by not migrating.

“The herd stays on or around Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain year-round and raids neighboring agricultural fields at night, then returns to the safety of the preserve during the day,” the county said. The elk also damage residential fences, landscaping and habitat for diverse native plants and wildlife.

When the county approved the plan, its objectives were to re-establish seasonal migration patterns; reduce impacts to grassland, shrubs, and forested areas; maintain a herd of 30 to 70 elk depending on migration status; and minimize damage to private property and elk-human conflicts.

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Matt Whittaker writes about natural resources industries, including oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, agriculture and cannabis. He's been based in the Denver metro area since 2013. You can follow him on Twitter @mattswhittaker.

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