Hunter’s unseen aim to preserve Colorado wildlife

Addressing a stereotype

It is a common misconception that hunting and conservation represent contradicting values. Consider, however, that Colorado Parks and Wildlife issued 490,218 hunting licenses last year.

With the power to issue (or not issue) licenses, CPW is able to manage the harvesting of animals in a way that aids their conservation in more ways than one.

The CPW and hunters

CPW’s mission is to preserve populations in such a manner that they will continue living in their habitats, forever. Using the north American model of preservation, the CPW acknowledges that the citizens have a non-commercial right to the wildlife and land around them. Their job is to manage it sustainably so that anyone can enjoy it, at any time.

Tabbi Kinion, the statewide education coordinator for the CPW, asserts that without hunting and fishing, there would be no proper preservation of animals:

“It’s called the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, and what it says is that hunters and anglers fund wildlife conservation and they’re a part of how we manage.  Wildlife management in our state is mostly funded by hunters and anglers, and without them, we wouldn’t have the wildlife that we have.”


Lisa Thompson teaches a hunting class at Cabela’s [Photo: Jessica Johnson].


In fact, 62 percent of the revenue that goes to CPW comes from the purchase of hunting licenses. That’s not income that the CPW can afford to ignore.

“A lot of that [money] goes into conservation and preserving areas for animals,” says Lisa Thompson, a long time hunter and hunting educator, of the benefits of hunting, “The refuges are places animals can go and they have great food and great water and it’s a lot of land and nobody can put pressure on them.”

The financial benefits from hunting aren’t the only ways in which hunters help the CPW. Kinion explains that the number of licenses they release is a calculated decision.


A taxidermied Wild Turkey at Colorado Parks and Wildlife [Photo: Jessica Johnson].

“Based on the information of what we’re seeing on the ground we adjust the number of licenses so that we are maintaining our populations how we need them to be maintained.”

If a population gets low, CPW gives out fewer passes, if a population gets too large, threatening other aspects of biodiversity, they can allow more licenses to hunters looking to harvest that particular animal.

Beyond Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s concerns for the preservation of animals, hunters themselves have a vested interest in conservation as well. In general, if hunters and fishers were allowed to operate without regulation, many of the most coveted game would disappear from the state.


Veteran hunter Donnelle Johnson aims downfield at a target with her hunting bow [Photo: Jessica Johnson].

A hunter’s emotional connection

There is also an emotional connection that many hunters feel with the animals. Crystal Egli, who is new to hunting, was surprised to find her sensitivity to killing wildlife was not unusual, even among avid hunters.

“I thought I was going to be the only person out there who would have that feeling. As I talked to hunters in the office and hunters out in the field, I realized that tons and tons of people actually have an emotional connection with the animal.”

Crystal found that among the hunters she has learned from, the resounding feeling was that of gratitude, “legal, ethical hunters feel something and they say if you don’t, that there is something wrong there.”

“As a hunter, if you lose that connection I don’t think that’s a good place to be,” admits Thompson, “that was a god given creature that god gave us, and I think it’s important to respect that life.”

Written and produced by JJ Gregg, Jessica Johnson, and Reannan Nagel.

Reannan Nagel:

Jessica Johnson:


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