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Recreational Licenses in Colorado

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) administers recreational licenses for fishing and hunting for several important reasons. First, it means the department can monitor such activities to ensure they are carried out legally and in a way that is not harmful to the local natural environment or residents. License fees can also be used to maintain these habitats, which in turn preserves them for both current and future users. Furthermore, the process of obtaining a license can be very informative for applicants. Even those who are experienced hunters or anglers in other states will likely benefit from having a local knowledge base. Whether visiting Colorado for a brief time, and wishing to do some fishing or hunting as part of the visit, or whether you are a local resident who has recently taken up hunting or fishing as a hobby, the guidelines in the sections below should prove useful in ensuring both hunters and anglers in CO know what will be expected of license holders and how to obtain a fishing or hunting license in the state.

Fishing Licenses in Colorado

CPW offers a variety of fishing licenses to suit all users. Both residents and nonresidents of Colorado can apply, and the types of licenses range from annually renewable to a single day’s usage. Examples of license types include one for seniors (aged 64 or older) and one for youths (aged 16 or younger). It is worth noting that some licenses are not available to both residents and nonresidents. For instance, the Small Game and Fishing combo is available to CO residents only.

Example fees for annual fishing licenses include $26 for a local resident and $56 for nonresidents. In all cases, the license year runs from April 1 until March 31. Two small additional fees are added to all licenses. The first is a 25 cent rescue and search fee, and the second is a 75 cent fee on behalf of the Wildlife Council. There is also a $10 Habitat Stamp fee for all first-time license holders. This fee is used to fund the Program known as Colorado Wildlife Habitat Protection (or CWHP) which works with landowners, conservation organizations and local government to preserve and maintain Colorado’s wildlife habitat.

The process for purchasing a fishing license is very simple and can be carried out either online or over the phone. In both cases, the license is generally mailed out on the following business day. There are two options for collection of the license, as anglers can either collect it in person at the local parks office or have it mailed to their home. The wait time should be no more than 10 days from the date of purchase. Upon receiving the license, license holders should review the information to check all is correct, then sign the back for it to be valid for use. CPW has a dedicated telephone line for license sales as well as a telephone line for more general questions about wildlife and the local habitat. Additionally, fishing licenses are available through approved state vendors, usually wherever sporting goods are sold.

Those applying for fishing licenses with a duration of 5 days or less will only receive a temporary authorization number (TAN) without any added documentation. For those with other types of licenses, a TAN will be issued at the time of purchase for use in the intervening time before the license arrives in the mail. In both cases, it is important to take note of the TAN.

Hunting Licenses in Colorado

The process for applying for and obtaining a hunting license in Colorado is very similar to obtaining a fishing license. However, there are some differences to be aware of.

First, as well as being able to apply for a hunting license online and over the phone, you can also do so in person by visiting one of the many retailers who sell licenses to residents and nonresidents in Colorado. Look for stores that carry sporting goods as most often they will also provide licenses. These licensed representatives can issue the license at the point of purchase.

There are a range of license types available for hunters, including big game, small game, turkey and waterfowl. As with fishing licenses, a TAN is issued to applicants, which allows hunting to be legally carried out prior to the arrival of the license in the mail. However, certain hunting licenses do not issue a TAN, and these include the turkey, waterfowl and big game varieties. In these cases, it is necessary to wait for the arrival of the license before proceeding with the activity, so remember to plan ahead in such cases.

You should also be aware when applying for a hunting license in Colorado that the state requires a certain amount of Hunter Education to be carried out beforehand, the purpose of which is to ensure you are able to carry out hunting activities in a safe, responsible manner.

With both fishing and hunting licenses, it is possible to request a license to be refunded, reissued or exchanged. However, certain stipulations and processing fees for carrying out such changes may apply. Please be aware that the stipulations and fees surrounding such changes are subject to change.

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