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Counting Our Neighbors

We asked Mike Porras with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), Northwest Region if he could share with us a current estimate of some wildlife species in Colorado. With assistance from a wildlife biologist with CPW, they provided the following numbers.

He explained that herd animals are easier to estimate as they can be spotted more easily from the air than other species such as bear. In early winter, CPW employees climb aboard aircraft and fly across large swaths of wildlife habitat in search of big game animals to classify by sex and age, while others gather biological data on the ground.

In addition to a thorough inventory of thousands of animals, CPW staff coordinate the helicopter capture and radio-collaring of a variety of big game species, including elk, moose, desert bighorn sheep, Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mule deer.

With the data collected, agency researchers and biologists are able to track the progress of several ongoing wildlife management efforts and studies. They also gain a clearer picture about the overall health of big game, allowing wildlife managers to form population models, management strategies and set future hunting license numbers.

elk_webmtlion_webbig-horned-sheep_web lynx_web Elk – 275,000
Deer – 435,000
Bear – 17,000-20,000 (conservative estimate)
Mountain lions – 3,000-7,000 (estimate)
Pronghorn (antelope) – 79,000
Moose – 2,550



For the remaining big game species,
2015 post–hunt estimates are:
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep – 7,000
Desert bighorn sheep – 520
Mountain goats – 1,400
Current estimate for Canada lynx is 150-200

Homo sapiens – 5,456,574 (Based on a 2015 estimate by the United States Census Bureau)