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Hunters threaten to boycott Colorado after passage of recent gun laws

 

Hunters across the country are boycotting Colorado because of recent legislation meant to curtail gun violence.

The state is known to be home to some of the best elk hunting in the country. But after its governor, John Hickenlooper, signed controversial bills this month banning ammunition magazines that hold more than 15 rounds, and require background checks for private and online gun sales, some out-of-state hunters say they'll take their business elsewhere.

Hunting outfitters say people began canceling trips after the legislation passed, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. The numbers are few, but growing.

"If those jaded sportsmen from out of state and right here at home really do follow through with their threats to never spend another penny on hunting and fishing in Colorado, well, the hunting and fishing just got a lot better for those who do participate."

- Scott Willoughby writes in The Denver Post

Northwest Colorado hunting guide Chris Jurney expects more state defections in a major tourism industry. Out-of-state hunters accounted for 15 percent of hunting licenses last year, 86,000, compared with 489,000 for residents.

"There's a united front of sportsmen that are tired of having their freedoms and liberties and fundamental rights taken away from them," said Jurney, vice president of the Colorado Outfitters Association. "That kind of unity among sportsmen is going to be big, and unfortunately for those of us who live here, we're going to suffer the consequences of this misguided legislation."

Jurney said he expects the actual impact of gun regulations on Colorado hunters will be small. Varmint hunters tend to use high-capacity magazines, so they might be limited. He also is concerned about a provision that limits the loaning of a gun to 72 hours. Many youth hunts, in which most guns are loaned, last longer, he said.

Jeff Lepp, owner of Specialty Sports, a gun and hunting shop in Colorado Springs, predicts hunters are going to choose to visit other Rocky Mountain states.

"Small mountain towns and rural towns in this state are going to lose a lot of money because you're not going to see the number of out-of-state hunters coming here. Other states are going to see a growth," he said.

Michael Bane, a producer for The Outdoor Channel, also announced he will no longer film his four shows in Colorado.

The new gun laws and others were drawn up in response to mass killings at a suburban Denver movie theater and a Connecticut elementary school.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Randy Hampton said his agency has asked the state attorney general's office for advice on impacts to hunters. While legal possession of high-capacity magazines is grandfathered in, officials want to make sure they are still legal to use.

Meanwhile, Scott Willoughby, who writes an outdoors column for The Denver Post, wrote that the disenfranchised hunters' "sour grapes" may benefit local hunters.

He wrote, "if those jaded sportsmen from out of state and right here at home really do follow through with their threats to never spend another penny on hunting and fishing in Colorado, well, the hunting and fishing just got a lot better for those who do participate."

The Associated Press contributed to this report