DENVER — Colorado wildlife officials are holding meetings across the state seeking support from sportsmen and other groups for a plan to double the cost of in-state hunting and fishing licenses.

Without the money, officials say they may have to put gates on state lands, shut down hatcheries and limit hunting licenses.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials have cut their budgets by about $40 million since 2009, including $10 million last year, and eliminated 50 jobs.

“No one wants to see raised fees,” wildlife manager Lyle Sidener said. “But if we are going to remain a premier destination for hunting and fishing, we have to make a choice about funding the future of our wildlife management and conservation.”

The division is falling behind on dam and fisheries maintenance, and if revenue keeps going the way it is, the budget will be short $15 million to $20 million by 2023, the Denver Post reported (http://tinyurl.com/zrcljqg).

Colorado Parks and Wildlife last raised residential hunting and fishing license fees in 2005. The price of a residential elk permit was raised to $49 from $34.

The division is seeking legislative approval to tie its in-state license fees to the consumer price index, which would add a few dollars every year to the cost of each license.

Wildlife officials say a long-term decline in hunting and fishing participation is reducing funding and costs are climbing.

Jeremy Bock, a Kremmling native, said he wants to pass on his love for outdoor sports to his children.

“Basically anything that helps hunting and fishing in Colorado, we support,” Bock said. “Unfortunately, you gotta double-up to catch up. When you get behind is when things get bad.”

“Just look at the value of our hunter dollars,” he added. “I’d pay $1,000 to spend a week in the woods with my daughter. There’s nothing better.”


Information from: The Denver Post, http://www.denverpost.com