COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) – Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) had crews at checkpoints about an hour east of Colorado Springs at the Punkin Center on Saturday. They arrested the drivers who were hunting. Hunters had to go to the checkpoint to have their vehicles checked. According to CPW, they have been planning this for about 6 months.
Several law enforcement officers were on site.
“We have to coordinate with CDOT, the state patrol, and then within ourselves as well. So we have to get official approvals from all of those agencies and make sure that what we’re doing on the highway is what we’re doing. they expect us to do and that we follow all their directives. And the same goes for the State Patrol, since we are diverting traffic,” said Ethan Pruitt, district wildlife officer.
CPW said it chose to perform checkpoints on Saturday because it was its opening weekend of the pronghorn season, one of its busiest weekends.
“This weekend is really important. It’s the opener of our rifle pronghorn season. It’s one of the busiest seasons we’ve had in the Eastern Plains in this region. And so there’s a lot of hunters. There’s a lot of information that we can collect on the biological side and then do these compliance checks, making sure everyone’s following the law,” said Tim Kroening, wildlife manager. of the region.
According to CPW, they haven’t had a checkpoint at Punkin Center since 2016. During their last checkpoint, around 130 vehicles passed through the checkpoint. On Saturday, they expected to check 150 to 160 cars.
Kroening said the 6-month operation had been a heavy load on personnel across Colorado. Officers from all over the state came to help with this operation. They had officers from Fort Morgan Brush, Denver, Cheyenne Mountain State Park, Colorado Springs and Lamar. About 40 officers walked in and out throughout the day.
One of the main purposes of checkpoints is to obtain biological data. The teams record whether or not the person has harvested wildlife, whether on public or private land.
“It just helps us provide more data to report to our biologist,” Pruitt said.
CPW also ensures that hunters follow the law. Kroening said he’s seen more bagging of fish being transported across the state, but that’s just one of the violations he’s seen.
“We might see illegal wildlife, whether it’s a pronghorn or some kind of other wildlife, we might see that here at the checkpoint. Anyone could make a mistake. So don’t cancel your carcass tag. Um, something more minor, like not removing evidence of sex or even not having sex at all. Those are all things we could see at that checkpoint,” Kroening said.
CPW said they gave citations based on the seriousness of the violation. Quotes could be anywhere between $100 and $1,000.
The CPW told KRDO that it plans to continue to have checkpoints throughout the state to enforce the laws.