Summit County elk herd thriving after temporary cut to shooting range hours |

Summit County elk herd thriving after temporary cut to shooting range hours

An elk herd numbering about 20 animals rests near the Summit County Shooting Range in Dillon, Tuesday, April 2.
Courtesy of Elissa Slezak/Colorado Parks and Wildlife

The Summit County Shooting Range’s decision to temporarily reduce hours to prevent disturbing a local elk herd has been lauded as a success by wildlife officials.

The shooting range, located next to the Summit County Resource Allocation Park, started limiting hours after Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials spotted an elk herd near the range last week. During winter, elk have nothing to eat and live off of fat stores. Aside from hunger, the sound of gunfire was considered an extra stressor that could endanger the elk during their critical calving period. After hours were reduced over the weekend, district wildlife manager Elissa Slezak said elk have been seen resting comfortably near the range.

“I was up at the range this evening around 6 p.m. and watched about 20 elk feeding,” Slezak said in an email to CPW officials and other concerned parties. “It seems that folks are respecting the limited hours, and the elk are definitely using the area when it is quiet. I just wanted to say thanks again to everyone for collaborating so quickly to implement the limited hours, I think it is well worth it and will make a difference for this elk herd.”

The reduced operating hours — 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ­— will be in effect until at least April 15, and possibly beyond depending on conditions. The normal hours for the range are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. from April to October, and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. from November to March.

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