1. The issue: There is currently no state policy to address the movement of wolves from Wyoming into Colorado but biologists know wolves have already crossed into Colorado. The Colorado elk herd (especially NW CO along the border with WY) is the largest and most densely populated in the US, so it's logical to assume that wolves will quickly flourish with an abundance of food. The impact of wolves on elk, deer, and moose populations is well documented in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and elsewhere. All of these states have seen precipitous declines in large ungulates attributable to wolves (and grizzlies, in some cases). Wildlife recreation--including big game hunting--is a $3 billion year industry in Colorado, so a decline in elk and other big game numbers will negatively impact license and tourism revenues and hundreds of jobs as has been the case in nearby states.
Our position: Wolf management in Colorado should reside under the jurisdiction of the state's wildlife experts. There should be no governmental introduction of wolves into Colorado given the potential for serious wildlife, recreation, and economic impacts. Brauchler supports the position taken by neighboring Republican Governor's Martinez, Herbert, and Ducey (NM, AZ, UT), which calls for states to have the right to manage wolves consistent with scientifically based wildlife management practices.
2. The issue - Colorado Parks & Recreation and Division of Wildlife merger: While the merger of the two agencies was intended to streamline operations and increase efficiency, neither has resulted. In fact, there is widespread dissatisfaction with the current structure of the combined agency and distrust among hunters and anglers is rampant since the DOW--a once financially prosperous agency supported largely by hunting and fishing license revenue--has now succumbed to combined agency disarray which is significantly the result of poor merger practices. Further, staff morale is reported to be at historic lows because of confusion of roles and staff redundancies that have not been streamlined.
Our position: Colorado needs to be a national example of sound stewardship in the Gifford Pinchot and Teddy Roosevelt sense of land management for maximum benefit in the multiple use, sustained yield model. Colorado is one of America's richest fish and wildlife states and, as such, needs a highly functioning, professional team of administrators, biologists, and communicators who employ best practices to deliver maximum access, quality, and service to the state's hunters, anglers, and parks users. As such, it's imperative that a blue ribbon panel of public (current and retired) personnel, private business owners and non-government orgranizations, and other key stakeholders be created to propose solutions that are derived from proven best practices both within state government and the private sector. The recommendations of this blue ribbon panel will guide the future structure of the agency.
3. The issue - License fee increase:There has not been a resident hunting or fishing license fee increase since 2005. Proposals have been sent to the legislature to raise fees with a cap in those increases to adjust for inflation.
Our position: Any proposal to increase hunting and fishing license fees should be driven by and broadly supported by Colorado sportsmen and women. The only way to generate this support is by pursuing changes that make our state fish and wildlife agency more transparent and credible in the eyes of its customers and the people of Colorado. The best way to achieve this is a full review of the agency's operating procedures and finances (a task of the blue ribbon panel) to make sure the division is operating as efficiently as possible so that Colorado's outdoor heritage remains in tact.
4. The issue - Federal land transfers to states: Some have advocated the transfer of federal lands to the states or even the sale of some federal lands to private interests.
Our position: We do not favor the transfer of federal lands--be they BLM, Forest Service, or former military bases to the state. However, we believe that Colorado should have a strong voice in any policy impacting the use of these federal lands within our borders. This includes maximizing recreational access of all kinds for the increased enjoyment of Coloradans and visitors.
5. We believe that the state should pass a constitutional amendment guaranteeing the right to hunt as numerous other states have done. Such an amendment would help prevent the introduction of frivolous, non-scientifically based wildlife legislation--like that proposed by Rep. Pederson last year, which, if passed, would have banned deer hunting throughout the state.
6. We firmly support Second Amendment rights along with conceal carry laws for those who have received proper training. We support the elimination of gun free zones which have only created targets for those looking to perpetrate crimes like we saw in Aurora and Columbine. We do not support decisions made by jurisdictions within the state who have opted not to allow conceal carry, for statistics prove that conceal carry is a significant deterrent to crime.