Population Growth and Hunting in Rocky Mountain States

wllm1313

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Many Western States give preferential treatment to ranchers, developers, oil, gas, and mineral companies, and other corporate entities to essentially produce their own profit from the public resource at little or no cost, by using BLM lands that the public cannot get to.
I'm sure this happens, although I've never actually seen it (OG companies being given rights and easements/right-of-ways to landlocked pieces of public ground, quite to the contrary I have been involved in two lawsuits where the E&P company I worked for took a leases from the BLM only to find-out post sale that there was no access to the parcel. Like everything there is a bit more to the story than that but that was the gist of it.

That is not to say a company might not take a lease on landlocked BLM and then pay the landowner 300k for an easement for a road + 400k for a water line then another 500k for a gas line then .25 cents per barrel of all the liquids removed via that road... etc.

Which is to say, we pay trespass fees like everyone else.
 

bushman13

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In 39 the development protects them, happens all over the US with deer. Some of these areas are not as anti-hunting as you think, a lot of the time they are hunted by a lucky few with great success.
Without a doubt, both habitat loss and hunting can greatly effect herd numbers. I cry as much as anyone every time a nice piece of property is developed. There is no turning back most of the time. That being said I think we should look to our own rifles as the primary culprit of herd sizes decreasing, especially when discussing elk. Keep in mind my elk opinion is ignorant at this point, but I have seen multiple stories where managers allocated too many elk tags for an area and it doesn't recover.

Whitetails are easy, they love living next to people. The goal there is how to keep the population down.

That's an interesting one... yes there are lots of elk and deer, but are their more or less than their would be without all the development? Also I don't think "private does a better job of game management" rather, the wealthy burbs of Denver are overwhelmingly anti-hunting and/or hunting isn't practical in 1 acre lot neighborhoods and the animals have a sanctuary. Every couple of years there is a huge brewhaha about someone who legally kills an elk with a rifle up there and all the hippy neighbors freak out.

I think a good counter example are units 35/36/44/45, there unlike 39 we have baseline data on what the herd looks like pre-development. That herd was one of the most robust in the state, in the last 15 years it has been devastated and continues to dwindle. CPAW believes this is directly caused by human activity in winter range. Much like conifer if you live in Eagle/Avon/Vail you might think the herds are kicking butt because you have animals in your yard all the time, but in reality those animals represent a fraction of what their once was. I postulate, that 39 is an example of sliding baseline syndrome, which will continue to be an issue throughout the west. If we aren't careful herds now might be at their peak and as habitat is lost successive generations won't notice, as the dwindling herd size they grew up with is the normal.

Same thing goes for snow pack, all those that came into CO in this last 5 year wave were freaking out about this winters snow, in reality this year wasn't even our 10 year high and wasn't particularly outstanding if you compare it to winters of the past 30 years. It was just the first post drought winter, everyone had moved to CO in a drought and thought those temps/ and snows were "normal", that was their baseline.

Having never lived or hunted in GA I would be way out of my element to comment on the state of their herds.
 

shoots-straight

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Any interest in driving this thread back on to the road of "How population growth is going to impact resident hunting I the Rocky Mountain states?"

Everyone sees what is happening. We all have thoughts or opinions on such.

Question becomes, how is this population boom going to change what has historically been very generous resident hunting opportunity and the ability for wildlife to continue at current levels and hopefully higher levels?
So when I was a youngun, growing up here in the Root (5th generation now grandkids are 7th) there were very few fisherman and far less hunters. You could go down to the River every day of season and catch your limit of 10 fish all bigger than mdunc8 posted, daily. There was no such thing as a raft back then, everyone bank fished. Very few roads in the high country, and fewer yet 4 wheel drive.

Then came the people and the (Industry). People started to renting rafts still most fished from shore, a few people started to guide NR's here vacationing. I actually saw a show with Kurt Gowdy (American Sportsman) fly a plane and land it on Big Creek Lake in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness area and catch a ton of large trout off the plane. The commercialization of hunting fishing etc goes hand in hand with the population increase. Now all the rivers in the West are over crowded, and all I hear is pissing and moaning because of it. This is a result of population increases if not down right over populations of humans here.

Signs of stress? Rifle seasons started mid September and ran into mid Dec. Less Elk, but far fewer hunters. So the loss of opportunities already has happened and will continue too. We all love our equipment that makes it easier to kill and so it goes.

Same things are going on with our hunting today. We have been promoting the hell out of it to gain support for it, and sell stuff, we all tune into shows that excite us to go out and "Do It Yourself" More people mean more are available to tune in and watch. More are apt to hunt, fish and recreate.

I tried the thread on Climate change and Alaska to see what the outcome would be from it. Sadly I don't see much difference here. Whether it's weather related, or population related, we are going to see less opportunity and far more pain at the pump because of it.

All the FACTS point to our ever increasing population of people moving to the West, just as all the FACTS point to Climate Change too. Some know we can't do much to mitigate the results of population increases and feel the same about Climate change.

If you don't like the hunting where you are today, then be prepared for it to get far worse in the future. This is easy to predict, because in my life I've already lived it here. We will see some good years, followed by bad ones, where the lows get lower, followed by not so good as in the past but OK, followed by even lower lows. Our trends will just continue on a downward spiral until people decide what's important to them. They never react until it costs them money, or loss of opportunity.

Other subjects have been addressed here, but my usually half full glass is laying on it's side right now. Hoping not to offend anyone but this is how I see it. Just my .02 cents worth.
 
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theat

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I don't understand how anyone can think that human population growth is not a huge issue, particularly when it comes to wildlife. Have a look at this chart. Pretty sad state we have put the world in already and I don't have much hope for the future.


109768
 

jlmatthew

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Reading the threads about the season structure debate in Colorado, the inflation of non-resident tags, and the general comments over the years about crowding and reduced opportunity, it got me doing some research about population growth in the Rocky Mountain States. I think most living here knew it, but it turns out the Rockies are some of the fastest growing areas in the US, by a big margin. The Rocky Mountain area is defined by most as CO, ID, MT, UT, WY.

Here are a few links of how much faster these states have been growing than the rest of the country.

Trends from 1959-2018 - https://united-states.reaproject.org/analysis/comparative-trends-analysis/population/tools/970000/0/

News about MT rapid growth - https://www.mtpr.org/post/census-numbers-show-big-growth-western-montana

79,000 new MT residents in the last eight years - https://www.opendatanetwork.com/entity/0400000US30/Montana/demographics.population.change?year=2017

165,000 new ID residents in the last eight years - https://www.opendatanetwork.com/entity/0400000US16/Idaho/demographics.population.change?year=2017&ref=related-peer

60,000 new WY residents in the last eight years - https://www.opendatanetwork.com/entity/0400000US56/Wyoming/demographics.population.change?year=2017&ref=compare-entity

593,000 new CO residents in the last eight years - https://www.opendatanetwork.com/entity/0400000US08/Colorado/demographics.population.count?ref=search-entity&year=2017

340,000 new UT residents in the last eight years - https://www.opendatanetwork.com/entity/0400000US49/Utah/demographics.population.count?year=2017&ref=compare-entity

From 2017-2018 over 20,000 Californians moved to ID - https://www.ktvb.com/article/news/local/yes-many-californians-are-moving-to-idaho-here-are-the-other-states-new-residents-are-coming-from/277-f65f25f1-6752-427a-b107-a27e5ca09417


It doesn't take long to see what this migration pattern is doing to the Rocky Mountain states that have historically had high resident hunter participation rates and hosted the largest portion of non-resident western hunters. And if you look at the projected numbers, the rate of increase is accelerating, not flattening or decreasing.

It is a western tradition to blame non-residents for all that is wrong with hunting in our states. Sorry, but it is part of the local indoctrination, with Californians and Texans being targeted to the highest degree. That might make for good humor, but the numbers probably show otherwise when one considers the limits that keep non-resident tag availability static or declining compared to the lack of limits on resident tag availability that are elastic in many instances. Resident population growth is far exceeding what little growth is happening in non-resident hunting opportunity due to most (not all) non-resident big game hunting being on some sort of quota or statutory limit, Colorado OTC elk being a possible exception.

What does that spell for hunting in these states, both resident and non-resident hunting? Not sure anyone knows, but I think some reasonable assumptions can be made. Though we know that not every new person is a hunter, I don't think it is unreasonable to expect that a good portion of those new residents are moving there for the outdoor benefits these states provide.

WY and CO have been the most generous to non-residents, in terms of license allocations. Can that generosity continue when resident population growth is putting a lot of demand on agencies to focus first on resident opportunity? I suspect changes will come in the next decade.

Can states with great resident opportunity and resident OTC/General tags continue with long/liberal seasons and OTC/General tags, as have ID, MT, and WY, when resident population growth is going to put more and more pressure on that resource? I hate to think about it, but it seems that changes will have to be made as these population growth trends continue.

How to handle the crowding of public lands, not just from hunters, as these new residents take to the hills to enjoy the outdoor amenities these states provide? Will that mean greater demand for exclusive private access, displacing hunters currently hunting those private lands and thus compounding the crowding issues on public? Seems to me that every possible solution for hunting access is going to be necessary, whether it improves access to public lands or private lands.

I fully expect that non-resident opportunity will be reduced in many western states over the coming decades as agencies are required to reallocate the hunting opportunity more toward residents. Just no way around it when resident growth in all these states is so high.

Wish it was a different picture. So long as people are fleeing the coasts and big cities, the Rocky Mountain states are going to be the landing spot for many people with the mobility to pack up and move. The fecundity of the American population seems to be in full force and that pushes the numbers even higher.

I don't have any answers to solve population growth in the Rocky Mountain states. Hell, I moved out west in 1984, so I am one of "those guys." I know that this rapid growth is bad for wildlife and wild places. Our animal populations are already relegated to their most marginal historic habitats. With population growth comes the development, which pushes wildlife even further to the margins. Amazingly, we have been able to increase or at least maintain numbers of some species in the face of this rapid growth. Yet, for some like mule deer and antelope and wild sheep, the consequences have been harsh.

Maybe I had too much nostalgia in my coffee this morning as I drove past multiple new subdivisions here in Bozeman and think about the geese we used to hammer in those fields. Like many Rocky Mountain state residents, I can't help but think that my future resident hunting opportunities are going to change as this population trend continues. I normally don't express those thoughts knowing full well that when I first came here in 1989 (and visited every few months before moving here two years later,) my move here probably imposed some of the same feelings on long-time residents at that time, even if the newspaper at that time was littered with real estate offers of "take over payments" as compared to the crazy prices of today.

Sorry to ramble without providing anything in the way of solutions.
California has grown by 3 million people during that same period.

I just got back a few weeks ago from the northeast so my wife could visit her folks in Pennsylvania and I can tell you what part of the country isnt growing. Folks are leaving the northeast in droves, especially the younger folks. Every town we visited in PA & NY had declining population when I looks up the info about them
 

mdunc8

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You could go down to the River every day of season and catch your limit of 10 fish all bigger than mdunc8 posted, daily
Leave my little fish out of this! I could just as easily head to any of the rivers around here and do what you described. It just not that enjoyable anymore. I get your point though. Can’t imagine how good you had it growing up out here.
 

MTGomer

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FWIW, that home on thatch wood is overpriced and has some problems.. as for people moving here, a vast majority of out of state clients have been from Colorado, Texas, Wisconsin and Washington State.

So you should be able to get a nicer house than it for the same money.

That sounds even more appealing than the Jersey St SF home for $1.69 Million.
 

beginnerhunter

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California has grown by 3 million people during that same period.

I just got back a few weeks ago from the northeast so my wife could visit her folks in Pennsylvania and I can tell you what part of the country isnt growing. Folks are leaving the northeast in droves, especially the younger folks. Every town we visited in PA & NY had declining population when I looks up the info about them
Maybe that will be good for the PA elk population. Congrats!
 

TheNorthStar

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Boy... reading this thread and the majority sentiment within has me bummed out.

But not enough to stop trying to convince my wife to move out to the inter mountain West some day. Sorry, not sorry.
 

wllm1313

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Boy... reading this thread and the majority sentiment within has me bummed out.

But not enough to stop trying to convince my wife to move out to the inter mountain West some day. Sorry, not sorry.
You will feel right at home pretty sure there are more people born in the Midwest in CO right now than there are natives. Just know that we reserve the right to smuggly call you out when we ask were you are from and you say here and then sheepish backtrack when we ask you went to high school ;)
 

3855WIN

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It seems that an honest discussion about population growth in the Rockies needs to look at the masses crossing the Southern US border.
High fences in South Africa has saved wildlife and habitat. Could a big fence on the border do the same here?
 

SnowyMountaineer

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It seems that an honest discussion about population growth in the Rockies needs to look at the masses crossing the Southern US border.
High fences in South Africa has saved wildlife and habitat. Could a big fence on the border do the same here?
Yeah all those undocumented citizens parking at my favorite muley trailheads are hard on the resource. :rolleyes:
 
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antlerradar

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Yeah all those undocumented citizens parking at my favorite muley trailheads are hard on the resource. :rolleyes:
I don't think that we have to worry about undocumented non citizens at the trailheads. I would worry about all the resources that tens of millions will require. I would worry that the competition for jobs and the stress put on the social safety net by millions of mostly low income people will accelerate the migration of lower middle to upper income residents moving form Texas and California to the rocky mountain states. This thread is all about the negative effects of population growth on public lands. With out immigration the population growth of the US is coming to a stand still. As a country we need some level of immigration. Uncontrolled immigration in the long term is likely just as big of threat to public lands and wildlife as is PLT today.
 

wllm1313

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It seems that an honest discussion about population growth in the Rockies needs to look at the masses crossing the Southern US border.
High fences in South Africa has saved wildlife and habitat. Could a big fence on the border do the same here?
High fences are antithetical to the NA system of wildlife management

Let's call it what it is a wall, a border wall would disrupt migration corridors, segment populations, and could hamper the spread/recovery of some species. It is a net negative for our wildlife no matter how you look at it.
 

MTGomer

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The biggest disturbance to desert bighorn sheep in Mountain ranges like the ones in the Cabeza Prieta NWR, where there is little to no water and stress is a serious issue 8 months out of the year, or to endangered Sonoran pronghorn is illegal border crossings and the people/trucks/helicopters that chase them.
Without these activities, human impacts to these areas would be almost zero.

A ‘high fence’ would be no better for these animals who live on both sides of the border.
 

MNElkNut

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Why do we need growth??? I hear that all the time and do not agree with that. Why can't we be content with how things are? Growth is not all good and brings stresses on many, many things....case in point is the topic of this thread!
 
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