Hunters urged by CPW to study changes as applications for big game licenses open March 1

Hunters hoping to draw a big-game license in Colorado in 2019 are urged to study up on all the changes in license requirements and fees prior to the March 1 opening of the application period.

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission recently approved a variety of changes to big game fees in response to the passage of the “Hunting, Fishing and Parks for Future Generations Act” by the 2018 Colorado General Assembly.

For example, the application processing fee will be $7 for state residents and $9 for nonresidents in 2019. The fees are based on the cost of processing applications.

Another major change is the requirement that all applicants, including youth ages 12-17, must buy a qualifying license prior to applying for the big game license draw. Qualifying licenses are spring turkey, annual small game, annual resident combination small game/fishing and veteran’s lifetime resident combination small game/fishing.

Licenses must be valid for the current license year — April 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. All qualifying licenses will be available for purchase starting March 1.

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After the 2018 application process, the Parks and Wildlife Commission heard from many hunters who wanted to ensure that all hunters invest in the agency’s wildlife conservation and management programs in Colorado.

“The philosophy behind requiring hunters to obtain a qualifying license is to make sure wildlife management is the foundation of our hunting opportunities,” said John Howard, chairman of the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission. “License revenue is the primary funding source for wildlife conservation in Colorado. Applicants who are only seeking preference points are not currently contributing to those efforts.”

The qualifying license approach is used in several other western states. It replaces CPW’s previous “pay-to-play fee” for deer, elk, pronghorn and bear applicants who were unsuccessful in the drawing or who applied for a preference point as their first choice and did not hold a qualifying license.

Another key change is to the application and correction deadline. Draw applications, and any corrections to the applications must be submitted by 8 p.m. on April 2, four hours earlier than in previous years when the deadline was midnight.

Anyone hunting moose, bighorn sheep or mountain goat now must pay a preference point fee. Hunters who are unsuccessful drawing their first choice hunt, or if they apply for a preference point hunt code as their first choice, will automatically be charged a $50 resident or $100 nonresident fee. No other big-game species have preference point fees attached.

“It’s very important all hunters read the 2019 Colorado Big Game brochure, which will be available online Feb. 14 at the CPW website at,” said Cody Wigner, assistant area wildlife manager in Colorado Springs. “We don’t want hunters to be caught off-guard by the new fees and deadlines.

“There are two full pages of changes in the brochure. We want everyone to have the best possible hunting experience and that includes getting their applications for the draw in early and accurately.”

Wigner also urged hunters to check their online accounts to ensure their contact information is current and credit card information is up-to-date, as well.

“Then check your account after the draw to see the draw results, your preference point levels and the status of your payments,” Wigner said.