Wildlife official to meet public

— Tom Burke took his 24-year-old goddaughter on a successful cow elk hunt in Craig in early January. The trip reminded Burke that there's more to a hunt than claiming a trophy.

"I guarantee you that was a quality hunting experience for her," Burke said. "It's not just about a big bull elk. In fact, a hunting experience shouldn't depend solely on killing an animal."

Burke, a Grand Junction resident, is one of the 11 members of the Colorado Wild--life Commission. He'll be in Steamboat Springs on Wed--nesday to meet with constituents and discuss their concerns about hunting, fishing and other wildlife issues.

Burke expects to hear from the public about the commission's recent decision to shift the availability of limited big-game licenses in favor of in-state hunters. In the past, 60 percent of deer and elk licenses for restricted game areas went to resident hunters, and 40 percent went to out-of-state hunters. Beginning next year, that ratio will change to 65/35.

The change has raised concern in Northwest Colorado, where local economies depend heavily on the dollars spent by out-of-state hunters. Big-game hunting guides also are concerned about their ability to get permits for their clients.

Colorado Division of Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said Colorado still offers greater limited licenses for out-of-state hunters than other Rocky Mountain states. And there are virtually unlimited over-the-counter bull elk licenses.

"Any hunter in Colorado who wants to hunt, there's a place for him to go. We'll create an opportunity," Burke said.

-- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205 or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

Colorado Wildlife Commissioner Tom Burke will meet the public from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Colorado Division of Wildlife office, 925 Weiss Drive. The office is in the U.S. Forest Service building on the west side of U.S. Highway 40.

Burke is serving his second four-year term on the commission. He is the president of Burke Construction in Grand Junction and the former state chairman of Ducks Unlimited.

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