Hunting licenses, park visits way up during pandemic

When the pandemic hit hard in the United States and Colorado starting early last year, Colorado Parks and Wildlife personnel like Travis Duncan had little idea what it would mean for hunting activity and whether to expect applications for 2020 big-game primary draw licenses to go up or down.

Up, resoundingly, the answer turned out to be.

Duncan, an agency spokesman, had wondered to what degree people might want to stay home from fears related to COVID-19, “it turns out more people applied (for draw licenses). More people wanted to get out,” he said.

Hunting was one of numerous outdoor activities people wanted to get out and do more of last year at a time when COVID-19 measures restricted so many activities, particularly indoor ones. Primary draw applications in 2020 in Colorado totaled 649,351, up from 609,360 in 2019.

Primary draw applications are for limited licenses available for specific hunting units and dates for each species.

They’re “for folks looking to get their dream hunt,” Duncan said.

The agency also sells other types of big-game licenses, but the high- volume primary draw count provides a good general indication of interest in big-game hunting in any given year.

This year’s primary draw applications show interest in hunting continuing to be strong as pandemic- related restrictions ease. Applications rose yet again, to 723,944.

“People want to get out and hunt, fish, visit state parks. We’re busier than ever,” Duncan said.

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