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Waterfowl Hunting Management Along the South Platte River in Eastern Colorado
Waterfowl Hunting Management Along the South Platte River in Eastern Colorado

​​​​​​​​​Led By

Jim Gammonley​ 

Study Area

Lower South Platte River corridor between Greeley and the state line.

Project Status

Data collection is completed. Data analysis and preparation of manuscripts for publication is on-going. 

Research Objectives

  • To determine if more restrictive hunting regulations will influence duck hunter activity, success, and satisfaction.
  • To determine if response to hunting regulations varies among State Wildlife Areas with different habitat conditions.

Project Description

The lower South Platte River (SPR) corridor has historically supported the highest numbers of wintering ducks and highest hunter numbers and duck harvest of any region in Colorado. Over the past decade, there has been increasing concern that harvest pressure has led to reduced numbers of wintering ducks and low harvest success. This could lead to lower hunter satisfaction and declining hunter recruitment and retention. 

These concerns have prompted discussions about creating refuge areas and implementing more restrictive hunting regulations on public and private lands along the SPR in an effort to increase the quality of duck hunting. However, decisions about the most effective management actions to take were hampered by a lack of basic information about duck use of SPR habitats and hunter activity, success, and satisfaction.  

In order to fill this information gap, CPW initiated a long-term study to compare the effects of different hunting regulations on duck hunter success and satisfaction, hunter activity and duck distribution​.

Researchers selected pairs of State Wildlife Areas (SWA) located within the SPR corridor. Each pair represented a different type of habitat condition occurring on SWAs in the study area. One SWA in each pair was assigned regulations that restricted hunter access, and the other SWA in each pair had no access restrictions. After three years, the hunting regulations were switched between SWAs and maintained for another three years. Researchers collected data on the number of ducks bagged per hunter, hunter activity, hunter satisfaction, overall duck numbers, climate data, and habitat conditions at each SWA throughout the duck hunting season during the six-year study period.​

The results from this study will help researchers develop recommendations for future duck hunting management of SWAs along the South Platte River corridor. ​