Baca National Wildlife Refuge to be opened for elk hunting


VALLEY — Beginning this fall, the Baca National Wildlife Refuge in the San Luis Valley will be open to hunters with a valid public-land elk license for Game Management Unit 82. An access permit is no longer required.

Hunters must continue to follow all Colorado hunting regulations, as well as the federal rules listed below. Hunters need to be aware that Private Land Only (PLO) licenses will not be valid for use on the refuge.

Valid hunting licenses will include:

Archery: Over-the-counter Antlerless Elk

Archery: Over-the-counter Either-sex Elk

2nd and 3rd Rifle: Over-the-counter Antlered Elk

Muzzleloader: GMU 82 specific, Antlered and Antlerless Elk

1st and 4th Rifle: GMU 82 specific, Antlered Elk for the 1st and 4th rifle

All Rifle Seasons: GMU 82 specific, Antlerless Elk

Elk hunting is the only hunting currently allowed on Baca National Wildlife Refuge. During elk hunting on the BNWR, safety is a primary concern because other visitors, staff, researchers, permittees, cattle and sheep could be present within the hunt area. Be very aware of shot direction and be sure of targets. Don’t shoot towards roads, houses, farm fields or vehicles. Other people may be using the same areas of the refuge, so please be courteous to all refuge users.

Please, be aware of these elk-hunting regulations:

All hunters must follow established Colorado licensing requirements, statutes and regulations in addition to these refuge specific rules.

All hunters must possess and carry a valid GMU 82 elk license Private Land Only - PLO licenses are NOT valid.

Hunting is only allowed within the designated elk hunting areas.

Archery hunters, no matter when they hunt, can access/hunt both the Archery Elk Hunting Area and Rifle Elk Hunting Areas.

Licensed hunters may be accompanied in the field by one non-licensed person during the hunt.

Use of handguns is prohibited for all regular season elk hunting.

Dogs are not allowed for elk hunting on the refuge.

Hunters may access elk hunting areas by foot, horseback or bicycle from parking areas or legal roads. However, bicycles are not allowed in proposed wilderness areas. See map. Mobility-impaired hunters should consult with the refuge manager for allowed conveyances.

ATV, OHV, snowmobile or any other motorized vehicles are not permitted in  designated elk hunting areas.

Vehicles on the refuge must be parked in parking areas which are numbered and denoted with a “P” on the map.

Methods of retrieval include foot, horseback, bicycle, or game cart, except in proposed wilderness areas where bicycles and game carts are not allowed. See map. Hunters with disabilities related to mobility should consult with the refuge manager for additional allowed methods of retrieval.

Hunters may be accompanied by a reasonable amount of helpers (4-5) for retrieval of downed animals.

If an elk is taken in a hay meadow, the entire carcass must be removed to assure that farm equipment is not damaged.

All uses of aircraft, including drones, on the refuge are prohibited; this includes launching on, landing on or flying over refuge lands.

Camping and overnight parking are prohibited.

Fires are prohibited on the refuge, except portable gas stoves in established parking areas.

The refuge is open for day use only, with access from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.

All personal property, including trash and rifle casings must be removed at the end of each day.

Use of flagging, paint, blazes, or reflective markers is prohibited.

Use or possession of alcohol or controlled substances while hunting is prohibited.

The collecting, taking, possession, or searching for artifacts, fossils and animal parts including antler sheds, is prohibited.

The entire designated elk hunting area or any portion thereof may be closed to hunting for the protection of habitat/wildlife resources, management activities, or safety issues as determined by BNWR staff.

See the map at:

Please call Baca National Wildlife Refuge Office at 719-256-5527 with any questions or concerns.

Caption: The Baca National Wildlife Refuge in the San Luis Valley will be open for elk hunting this fall. Interested hunters should review the special regulations for the area./Image courtesy of CPW