Wildlife Depend on Wildlands.

Big-game thrives in Gunnison County with some of the most productive Game Management Units (GMUs) in the state. Gunnison County has been called a sportsman's paradise, with extensive, intact backcountry habitat and gold-medal waters on the Taylor and Gunnison River.



The quantity and quality of wintering habitat is the primary limitation to productive and sustainable populations of mule deer, pronghorn and possibly elk. Mule deer and elk populations, especially, are currently below population levels were much more abundant in the past 40 years. Various human pressures have caused ungulate populations and population size management objective to decline.

The elk, mule deer and pronghorn herds are particularly impacted by natural winter die-offs such as those that occured in 1999, 2008, and 2017. Unfragmented and undisturbed winter habitats are key to ensuring that these populations can withstand the impacts of harsh winters are minimized. Increases in habitat fragmentation and human disturbances will make it even more difficult for ungulates to persist even in average winters.

The GPLI has proposed protecting some of these lands, particularly as winter range in Gunnison County tends to be near roads and towns, making wildlife habitat more susceptible to additional fragmentation and human disturbance.

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The cold, clean streams of Gunnison County are also home to numerous populations of native Colorado River cutthroat trout including ten conservation populations. Keeping streams remote and free from development is critical to the future health of these trout.

Hunters and anglers provide significant economic contributions to Gunnison County. In 2014, fishing and hunting combined contributed $6.1 billion to the Colorado economy.