Forest fires prompt more than $2 million in refunds to Colorado hunters

When the East Troublesome and Cameron Peak fires were at their peaks in mid-October, Colorado Parks and Wildlife knew the impact was going to be significant on hunting season – both on rates of success and on CPW finances.

Randy Hampton is the Public Information Officer for the Northwest Region of Colorado covering Craig and Moffat County, Rio Blanco County, Garfield County and Routt County. He said the agency lost more than $2 million in refunded hunting licenses and tags in an unprecedented year.

Hampton added that the agency was forced to move a number of tags into different Game Management Units (GMUs) throughout Colorado due to fire conditions.

“We know there were people that did not show up due to the fires and COVID; there was a lot of concern there,” he said.

Hampton added though that CPW did see a significant increase this year in over-the-counter hunting and fishing licenses, as well as single-day park passes and similar items, helping cover for any sort of deficit created from the refunds. CPW still needs to have its financial department go over the numbers and determine how much was officially lost due to refunds, and how much was gained due to over-the-counter sales.

“Anything outdoorsy was huge this year, especially,” Hampton said. “Anything that got people outdoors was a huge hit; people went crazy for that stuff.”


With hunting season mostly wrapped up at this point in the year, CPW is working on gathering information on harvest numbers for 2020, as well as numbers on the presence of chronic wasting disease within Colorado.

That said, Hampton says that deer harvest in Moffat County was good, while elk harvest was strong in the first and second seasons before tapering off in the third and fourth seasons, largely due to warmer temperatures.

“Deer harvest was good; the season seemed to fall just right,” Hampton said.

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