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Big game opportunities abound in burned area

Posted: Friday, Sep 13th, 2013

Deer graze on new vegetation in the West Fork Complex Fire area. Courtesy photo

Courier staff writer

SOUTH FORK — Big game continue to roam the forest despite the deep burn from the West Fork Complex Fire (WFCF), and hunters are still welcome to take aim in Game Management Unit (GMU) 76 near Creede.

On Tuesday, Creede-area Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) District Wildlife Manager Brent Woodward reported during the Rio Grande Watershed Emergency Action Coordination Team (RWEACT) meeting in South Fork that animals are still alive and well in the Rio Grande National Forest (RGNF), and fish are still swimming in the Rio Grande.

“They are using it,” Woodward said, dispelling rumors of massive animal deaths resulting from the WFCF.

The area was burned in varying intensities from high (11 percent), moderate (50 percent), low (24 percent) and un-burned/under-burned (15 percent), according to CPW reports.  The majority of the burn occurred in summer and transitional range for elk in GMU 76. 

Many hunters have contacted the CPW to find out if hunting is feasible in the RGNF this season, he said, and some have decided to turn in their tags, foregoing the season for a refund or an opportunity to change preference points.

The number of returned tags out of the 1,265 issued in 2013 for the GMU is unknown at this time, he said.

The overall effects of the WFCF will be positive for both this season and the next, according to CPW reports. The heavy monsoon season enabled new forest growth that is nutritious and attractive to big game. The growth will continue throughout the hunting season, providing excellent forage resources for years to come.

For the complete article see the 09-13-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 09-13-2013 paper.

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