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Game Damage
Game Damage

The Game Damage Program is a Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW) prevention and reimbursement program that compensates ranchers, farmers and landowners for damage caused by big game animals.


Which big game species are covered by the Game Damage Program?

CPW may provide prevention materials and/or reimbursement to landowners for damage caused by the following big game species:

  • Bighorn Sheep
  • Black Bear
  • Elk
  • Moose
  • Mountain Goat
  • Mountain Lion
  • Mule Deer
  • Pronghorn Antelope
  • White-Tailed Deer
  • Wolf
The State is not liable for damage from nuisance wildlife (starlings, coyotes, pigeons, etc.).


Qualifications for prevention materials or damage reimbursement?

Any landowner* who has experienced (or has the potential for) damage to harvested or growing crops, lawful fences, orchards, nurseries, personal property used in the production of raw agricultural products or livestock by big game species may request temporary or permanent prevention materials or reimbursement.

Landowners must meet the following requirements:

  • The landowner does not unreasonably restrict hunting of species likely to cause damage on the land under the landowner’s control or restrict the hunting of species likely to cause damage on any other lands by restricting access across lands under the landowner’s control, and who charges not more than five hundred dollars ($500) per person, per season, for big game hunting access on or across the landowner’s property (C.R.S. 33-3-103.5).
  • The doctrine of avoidable consequences applies to wildlife damage claims, and claimants have a duty to mitigate damages. A claim shall be denied or limited, as is appropriate under the doctrine, where the claimant fails to exercise reasonable care and diligence to avoid the loss or to minimize or lessen resulting damage.  The burden of proving a failure to mitigate damages shall be on CPW (Reg. #1710).
  • A landowner agrees to install the prevention materials as specified for damage purposes only and maintain them for a specified period.

*With respect to temporary game damage prevention materials, “landowner” is defined as: a person who owns land that is, directly or through the lessee of such land, used for the production of agricultural products, or uses personal property for which the state would generally have liability for game damage under 33-3-104, C.R.S., even if the landowner or lessee is specifically not otherwise eligible for such game damage payments or permanent game damage prevention materials due to the unreasonable restrictions on hunting or availability of access or because of the fee charged by the landowner or the lessee for the purpose of big game hunting access to or across the property (Reg. #1719). 

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Types of prevention materials/fencing

CPW provides immediate temporary and/or permanent solutions for the prevention of big game damage and distributes materials to qualified landowners for the protection of their crops or livestock.  

Temporary Materials

These materials are made of an adequate substance that are utilized to protect private property for a period of time agreed upon by the landowner and CPW.

  • Such materials may include, but are not limited to, transferable wooden elk panels, apiary protection fencing or pyrotechnics.

  • Every landowner shall be eligible to receive sufficient and appropriate temporary game damage prevention materials (C.R.S. 33-3-103.5).

Permanent Materials

These materials are made of an adequate substance that are erected in such a way to protect private property for the expected normal life of the materials.  

  • The normal life of the materials shall be as specified in a written agreement between the landowner and CPW. 

  • CPW has the responsibility to supply useable, sufficient and appropriate game damage prevention materials to a requesting landowner, and the landowner shall keep such materials in good repair throughout their normal life, if such materials have not been destroyed or damaged by wildlife (C.R.S. 33-3-103.5).

Example Available Fencing Layouts with Requirements


Apiary Fencing

Apiary prevention fencing is available to beekeepers in the following options. 

Example Apiary Layouts with Requirements (Beeyards)

Other sizes available for large commercial producers who maintain more than 400 beehives.

Other Apiary Guidelines

Contact your local CPW office and ask to speak to a District Area Manager (DWM) about apiary fencing requirements.

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How to Apply for Fencing/Prevention Materials

All fencing requests start with the local District Wildlife Manager (DWM). Contact a DWM through your local CPW Office to arrange a site visit, and discuss the requirements and obligations and application process.

If CPW offers to provide me with fencing, how long do I have to accept the offer?

If CPW offers, in writing, to furnish fencing to a landowner and the offer is refused or the landowner does not respond within 30 days, CPW shall not be responsible for any subsequent damage until such time as the landowner makes a written request for fencing materials at which time the provision of (#1720.B) shall apply (#1720.C).

Once CPW provides fencing, how long do I have to put the fencing up?

If the landowner does not erect permanent game damage prevention materials within a reasonable time period after receipt of materials, not to exceed 270 days, to prevent the anticipated damage, or if the materials are not erected in such a manner as to reasonably prevent damage, the Division shall not be responsible for any subsequent damage caused by the failure to use such materials.  When materials have been provided for temporary game damage prevention or electric fence surrounding apiaries, this time period shall not exceed 15 days from the date of receipt of materials.  Damage prevention materials may be delivered by the Division to any person if the request is the result of game damage occurring in any area where it has not normally occurred (#1720.B).

Who will be responsible for maintaining and repairing the fencing?

  • All permanent stackyards or fences or panels furnished or constructed by CPW shall be maintained and repaired for their normal life by the landowner unless damaged or destroyed by wildlife.  

  • Materials for repairing damages by wildlife to permanent fencing or panels in excess of $100 shall be furnished by CPW and shall remain the property of CPW (#1722.A).

Damage to Fencing due to Negligence or Improper Use

In the event that damaged prevention materials are destroyed or made unusable through negligence or abuse or they are used for any purposes other than the prevention of game damage CPW may take one or more of the following actions: 

  1.  After written notice to the landowner, CPW may remove the materials from the landowner’s owned or leased land; 

  2. CPW may require payment for any damaged or misused materials or may refuse to issue any additional prevention materials until the landowner has paid for the damaged or misused materials. The amount of payment shall be the cost of new materials of similar construction, reduced by a depreciation factor based on the normal life of these materials; 

  3. CPW may deny all or part of a big game damage claim where proper use and maintenance of damage prevention materials would have prevented or reduced the damage (#1722(C)&(D)).

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Game Damage Reimbursement (Claims)

What types of damage can I ask for reimbursement for?

Types of game damage reimbursement include growing crops, harvested crops, lawful fences, livestock, livestock forage, nurseries, orchards and personal property used in the production of raw agricultural products. 

Reimbursement for wildlife damages shall be reduced by the amount of claim awarded by an insurance company for the same damages (C.R.S. 33-3-104(9)).

Damage not eligible for Reimbursement from CPW

The State shall not be liable for damage to livestock caused by coyote, bobcats or dogs; damage to motor vehicles caused by wildlife; injury or the death caused by wildlife; damages, if the Division has furnished to the claimant sufficient and appropriate damage prevention materials and the claimant has refused to accept or use such materials exclusively for game damage prevention, and if the provisions of section 33-3-103.5 have been complied with by the Division and the claimant; and damages, if the claimant has willfully failed to maintain damage prevention materials throughout the normal life of such materials, and such materials have not been damaged or destroyed by wildlife (33-3-103(a-g)).

How do I file a game damage claim?

Important: contact your local CPW office and ask to speak to a District Wildlife Manager (DWM)  immediately upon discovery of damage to file a claim.

To successfully file a claim, you must complete the required paperwork and meet required deadlines.

  • CPW staff will provide you with the correct paperwork and can answer questions regarding the claim procedures.

  • Throughout the process, the claimant is responsible for timely notifications, completion of forms, efforts to mitigate the damage and assisting CPW personnel investigating the claim.

  • The claimant must be able to prove the damage was caused by big game and that the value being claimed is reasonable.

How do I estimate a reasonable value for my damaged property?

To determine a (fair market value) claim amount, see the following websites:

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Identify Game Damage

What is considered damage?

Damage is any change in the quality or quantity of any property which reduces its value. Damage shall include all costs necessary to restore property to its condition immediately prior to damage, to replace it with property of equal value or to compensate for restoration or replacement (#1700(H)).

Wildlife Damage

To determine if the damage was caused by eligible big game species, see the following websites:

Tracks, Tracking and Scat

To determine by tracks or scat if the damage was caused by eligible big game species, see the following websites:

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Colorado Revised Statutes and Rules and Regulations


Program History, Funding & Annual Report

Since the inception of the Game Damage Program in 1931, the original broad legal language has evolved to specify what game damage laws cover. Twenty years ago the program was expanded to include damage prevention. The Game Damage Prevention Program has helped to decrease the amount of damage and the amount paid out in claims by the State.

How is the Game Damage Program Funded?

The program is funded by the appropriation of sportspeople’s dollars from the Game Cash Fund.

Progress Report

In fiscal year 2020, compensation costs amounted to $447,100 in settlement of 183 claims. These costs are ~$308,644 below the past 5-year average of $755,744 (FY15-19), a 40.84% decrease. This decrease is largely attributed to fewer and lower claims for bear depredation on livestock and a 33% reduction in growing crop claim compensation compared with last year. The total number of claims paid (n=183) in FY20 was below the past 5-year average of 236. CPW denied two claims total in FY20 (1.1% of all claims filed).

See the Game Damage Annual R​eport for details.

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