Boulder County manages the Red Hill elk herd located on either side of US 36 between Heil Valley Ranch and Table Mountain using limited hunting and other resource management tools.
Red Hill Elk Herd Management
Management Plan Approved
On Monday, March 30, the Boulder County Commissioners approved the Red Hill Elk Management Plan for two years with the caveat that hunting will cease once herd objectives are met. The board also stipulated that an annual public hearing will be held to update progress and consider any modifications.
2029-2021 Hunting Season
The Red Hill elk management hunt is intended to target a growing resident herd and will occur from Aug. 17 through Oct. 31. Four selected hunters will be permitted each week from Monday through Saturday. Although the hunting area is closed to the public, given its proximity to trails and residential housing, only short-range methods of take will be allowed. These include archery (west of US 36 only), muzzleloader, and shotgun slug. Learn more about hunting on open space.
This hunting program is solely and specifically permitted as a resource management tool. There is no cost to the hunter beyond the existing Colorado Parks and Wildlife license system and Boulder County does not receive any additional revenue. Recreational hunting in the management area or any other open space property is strictly prohibited.
Board of County Commissioners
On March 30, the Boulder County Commissioners approved the Red Hill Elk Management Plan for two years with the caveat that hunting will cease once herd objectives are met.
Parks & Open Space Advisory Committee (Feb. 27)
On Feb. 27, the Parks & Open Space Advisory Committee voted to recommend the plan to the Board of County Commissioners.
Open House (Feb. 5)
An open house was held on Feb. 5. Staff discussed management options for the herd.
The Red Hill elk herd makes use of county-owned properties closed to the public on either side of US 36 between Heil Valley Ranch and Table Mountain. The area has been historically utilized by the herd during fall and winter after migrating down from its summer range at higher elevations. However, a growing number of elk has recently stopped migrating and now spends the summer summer at low elevation on county-owned properties and the Table Mountain area. The use of the Table Mountain area is a new development altogether, occurring only within the last 10 years. Three formal summer counts in 2019 all counted more than 88 elk, including a large segment of calves. This growing elk population has come into conflict with neighbors and Parks & Open Space agricultural tenants both north and south of Nelson Road. Additionally, this area has been noted as a dangerous highway elk crossing by the Colorado Department of Transportation with numerous vehicle-wildlife collisions.
The elk herd’s rapid population growth has the potential to cause extensive damage to the highly diverse native plants and wildlife habitat of this area. According to the Colorado Natural Heritage Program, portions of this area are rated B1 Outstanding Biodiversity Significance, which means the plant and wildlife diversity is globally rare and irreplaceable and other areas as B2 (Very High Biodiversity Significance). This area is also designated as a Critical Wildlife Habitat and an Environmental Conservation Area in addition to being a Natural Area (#9, Red Hill) in the Boulder County Comprehensive Plan Environmental Resources Element.