Once again, officers with the Colorado Division of Wildlife are searching for poachers, after two bull elk were slain in late December and left alongside a road a few miles west of Tarryall Reservoir in Park County, writes The Denver Post. CDOW staffers are likely approaching the topic with care, as the agency addresses the fact that fewer people are hunting in the state. From the CDOW’s perspective, the “significant decline” in active hunters since 1996 is bad news, as the division has been working to reverse the trend with programs for new hunters, including youths. It’s not just the division’s revenues at stake, Jim Bulger, the agency’s Hunter Outreach Coordinator, tells the Vail Daily. Wildlife management is also at risk.

Already, elk and deer have too few natural predators in Colorado, and if herds grow too large, they can create myriad problems. “For years now, there’s been a decline in hunters as areas have become more urban,” Bulger explains. “Also, instead of one parent in a family earning the income, both parents are working, which means less free time. Folks have less leisure time these days because they’re working harder.” That’s why the division is leading hunts with kids, women, the disabled, and others in the hopes of diversifying the hunting ranks.