Elk hunting planned near Highlands Ranch

Posted 6/25/10

A recommendation from the Colorado Division of Wildlife to thin herds of elk will have hunters prowling land owned by the Highlands Ranch Community …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Elk hunting planned near Highlands Ranch


A recommendation from the Colorado Division of Wildlife to thin herds of elk will have hunters prowling land owned by the Highlands Ranch Community Association.

Twenty hunters will get the chance to hunt elk on more than 3,000 acres in the Backcountry Wilderness Area, plus a few thousand acres of adjoining private land. The HRCA will distribute six bull tags and eight cow tags after a random drawing July 23; applications are accepted beginning July 1. As part of the division of wildlife’s hunter outreach program, another three youths and three women will be chosen for the elk hunting expedition. Tags are limited to HRCA members unless there are still open spots as of July 15.

Because the property was not conveyed to the HRCA until May 2009, this is the first year that the community association will oversee the hunt. Since 2002, Shea Homes has conducted herd-thinning hunts and an estimated 300 elk have been harvested, said Mark Giebel, backcountry wilderness area supervisor for the HRCA.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife conducted a study in 2001 that revealed the need to reduce the size of elk herds in Douglas County and surrounding areas. Managing big game animals to ensure their health and the health of their habitat is most often done by hunting.

“They noticed the herd was unhealthy. Their antlers were not growing, they looked unhealthy and there was not enough feed for them,” Giebel said, adding hunting stems the spread of chronic wasting disease, a neurological disease that can take out entire herds of elk. Thinning also prevents the destruction of natural resources.

There are 300-500 elk in the northwest Douglas County area, and the target number is about 250 to ensure the vitality of the region’s herds, Giebel said.

Two informational community meetings in the last five weeks were intended to get public feedback. The HRCA also has sent information about the elk hunting program in newsletters, e-mail blasts and through neighborhood delegates.

“We’re open to hearing people’s concerns,” Giebel said. “We have had no negative comments; just hunters excited for the opportunity.”

Only 3,000 acres of the 8,200-acre Backcountry Wilderness Area is available for hunting. Organizers made sure hunting will only take place more than one mile from homes and major roadways, significantly reducing the risk to public safety. However, there are recreation trails within a third of a mile of the northernmost hunting territory.

The elk typically migrate between the backcountry, Cherokee Ranch, Castle Pines Village and Daniels Park. The estimated carrying capacity of the three open space properties combined is 450 elk. Optimal herd health is typically achieved at half of the carrying capacity, a biologist from the division of wildlife said after the study. There are few natural predators of elk within the three contiguous large acreage properties.

There is about 12,000 acres of contiguous open space in the area, Giebel said.

The hunting begins Sept. 11. The HRCA is requiring all hunters to attend a mandatory orientation and follow 28 strict rules. The hunts will not be supervised.

For more information on the elk hunting program, visit www.hrcaonline.org.


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.