What is BGSS?

    Big game management in Colorado is built on two main planning processes: Herd Management Plans (also called Data Analysis Unit [DAU] Plans) and BGSS. Herd Management Plans establish population objectives and sex ratios for each of the state’s big game herds. BGSS defines a framework for achieving those objectives through hunting seasons for different species and methods. These two processes inform the allocation of licenses through the annual rule-making process.

    Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) uses a five-year BGSS, which is designed to provide sportspersons, hunting-related businesses, landowners, and communities an opportunity to plan ahead for the upcoming seasons. This timeframe also provides consistency for CPW to assess the effectiveness of management actions and hunting seasons over time. The BGSS planning process is a critical component of big game management and big game hunting regulation development. The central purpose of the BGSS planning process is to determine:

    • What, when, and where types of big game hunting opportunities are available.

    • How the timing of opportunities is divided among hunters.

    Through this planning process, CPW is better able to maintain healthy wildlife populations in keeping with management objectives and provide recreational benefits for the hunting and non-hunting public. 

    Why is CPW evaluating BGSS now?

    CPW evaluates and updates the BGSS every 5 years. CPW gathers internal and external input to evaluate the current season structure and emerging issues and then develops policy recommendations for the upcoming 5-year framework. This approach helps ensure the administration of hunting is continuously aligned with big game management needs as well as hunter interests. CPW has tested out shorter timeframes (such as a 3-year BGSS) but this timeframe did not allow enough time to rigorously examine the impact of various hunts on long-term management goals. In practice, a 3-year structure only allowed for 1 complete year of data collection before the season structures were reviewed and possible changes suggested. 

    What BGSS topics are being considered?

    CPW presented an initial list of topics for discussion to the Commission at the January 18 Commission meeting, and requested guidance from the Commission to move forward with these proposed topics for public and stakeholder engagement. The full memo sent to the Commission is available online here

    The Commission approved including all staff-recommended primary and administrative topics in the 2025-2029 BGSS process. (Updated 3/16/2023)

    What about allocation and preference points?

    In response to the Commission’s request during the March Commission meeting, staff brought back final regulations for approval implementing staff’s recommendation of a 75/25 (Resident (R)/Nonresident (NR)) single allocation for deer, elk, pronghorn, and bear in time for the 2024 seasons. 

    The Commission directed staff to retain the 80/20 (R/NR) allocation split for high demand hunt codes and adopt the proposed 75/25 (R/NR) allocation split for all other hunt codes. Staff will move forward with implementing these regulations for the 2024 seasons. 

    During the March 2023 Commission Meeting, the Commission requested staff bring back preference point banking alternatives for deer, elk, bear, and pronghorn limited licenses. On April 21, staff sent a memo to the Commission, which recommended that CPW maintain the status quo (in which no preference point banking system would be implemented) and outlined the benefits and drawbacks of preference point banking. Staff also outlined two potential preference point banking alternatives for the Commission to consider. 

    During the May 3 Commission meeting, CPW staff presented their recommendation and alternatives on preference point banking to the Commission. The Commission directed staff to maintain the status quo and not implement preference point banking. The Commission also directed staff to form a Draw Working Group to analyze CPW’s current draw rules and processes. The group will identify ways to reduce complexities and find new solutions or alternatives to address some of the perceived preference point issues, as well as biological and sociological concerns. 

    During the July 21 Commission meeting, staff brought back a detailed plan to the Commission, which consists of four steps: 1) the lean process analysis, 2) the formation of the draw working group (consisting of ~18 members) and work sessions, 3) Commission workshops, 4) and the regulatory process. 

    Step 1 is scheduled to be completed by the end of the calendar year, with work sessions beginning in the fall of 2023. CPW will use all feedback received from the Draw Working Group and public, as well as established objectives from the Commission workshops, to inform the regulatory recommendations. 

    See the full recordings of the May Commission meeting here. *Please note that allocation topics were discussed and decided on during Day 1 (starting at 7:43:00 on 5/3), while preference point banking topics were discussed and decided on during Day 1 (starting at 8:16:00 on 5/3) and the morning of Day 2 (5/4).

    How have hunters and other stakeholders been involved to date?

    1) Big Game Attitude Survey 

    To assess hunters' views on big game hunting in Colorado, CPW conducted a Big Game Attitude Survey in 2021, which was completed by 2,180 hunters total. CPW distributed the BGAS to a random sample of resident and nonresident big game hunters. The BGAS captured opinions on a number of big game hunting topics, including species preferences and season length preferences. Results from the BGAS are available in the Big Game Attitude Survey Summary Report.

    2) Public and Stakeholder Meetings

    The BGSS public outreach process is divided into two stages. 

    Stage One focused on 1) gathering public input on the BGSS via this web page and 2) targeted stakeholder briefings. CPW staff discussed BGSS, including possible changes, at several stakeholder meetings, including at the Colorado Sportsperson’s Roundtable, regional sportsperson’s caucuses, and stakeholder organization board meetings. 

    Stage Two focused on hosting both virtual and in-person public meetings throughout the state to help inform the 2025-2029 BGSS. 

    Staff hosted 17 in-person and 2 virtual public meetings from May to late June 2023 to gather feedback on hunters’ perspectives on the current BGSS and opinions on possible changes for the 2025-2029 BGSS.

    In August 2023, CPW released a summary report of public involvement conducted to date for the 2025-2029 BGSS process. Staff presented their public input findings to the Parks and Wildlife Commission at its August 2023 Commission meeting

    How can I learn more and share my opinion/public comment?

    Members of the public may submit general comments to the Commission. For information on how to share written or oral comments with the Commission, please see the Submit Public Comments web page. To receive email updates about this and other relevant topics please complete the Email Updates Form.