GUNNISON, Colo. – In an effort to protect critical winter ranges for deer, elk, Gunnison sage-grouse and other wildlife, multiple State Wildlife Areas have seasonal closures in place in the Gunnison Basin.
Closures went into effect Dec. 1 for the Almont Triangle, Centennial and Gunnison SWAs.
Seasonal closures are imperative for sustaining healthy wildlife populations. As the human footprint continues to grow through the impacts of development and increased recreation, there are fewer areas for wildlife to seek refuge during the harsh winter months when forage is less abundant and lacking in nutritional value.
“Even mild winters take a toll on wildlife, so these closures are in place to protect wildlife and to help get them through,” said Brandon Diamond, area wildlife manager for CPW. “We all value wildlife in the Gunnison Basin, and it’s up to all of us to protect these animals. There are plenty of other areas in the basin for people to recreate during the winter. Please, respect our closures.”
Big-game animals come down from the high country as temperatures turn colder, snow piles up and they seek easier living conditions. Human activity in these areas during the winter months could cause animals to unnecessarily expend calories, hurting their chances of survival and producing healthy offspring in the spring season.
Each year, CPW issues citations and fines to people in violation of the seasonal closures. Access points are clearly signed and gated to indicate closures.
The closure at Almont Triangle and Gunnison SWAs runs from Dec. 1 through April 30. The closure at Centennial SWA is in place from Dec. 1 through June 30.
Here is a list of the other state wildlife area closures in the basin:
Miller Ranch State Wildlife Area, located northwest of Gunnison: closed March 1 through June 30. Exception for youth hunts; call the Gunnison wildlife office for information at 970-641-7060.
Sapinero State Wildlife Area, located west of Gunnison: snowmobiles allowed only on the main roads – Rainbow Lake and Red Creek roads – through the wildlife area.
Tomichi Creek State Wildlife Area, located south of Gunnison: open to fishing year around, closed to all public access other than fishing from the end of waterfowl season through June 30.
On all public lands in the Gunnison Basin, collection of shed antlers is prohibited from Jan. 1 through April 30. Additionally, it is illegal to possess antlers or horns on public lands in Game Management Units 54, 55, 551, 66, 67 between legal sunset and 10 a.m. from May 1 through May 15.
For more information about closures, contact the Gunnison wildlife office; or for more information on other closures or restrictions on federal lands, please check with the Gunnison office of the U.S. Forest Service at 970-641-0471 or the Bureau of Land Management at 970-642-4940.
View the Colorado State Recreation Lands brochure online at https://cpw.state.co.us/Documents/RulesRegs/Brochure/lands.pdf.