With hunters shooting deer from the road and leaving guts and legs in neighbors' yards, some residents of Sugarloaf say they have "just had it" with hunting in their area.
Boulder County already bans the discharge of weapons in the area -- and has since 1980 -- but the Colorado Division of Wildlife continues to allow people to hunt there.
A group of Sugarloaf residents will mark the opening of high-powered rifle season Saturday with a protest at the entrance to Pine Mountain Road from Sugarloaf Road, calling on the Division of Wildlife to ban hunting on 4.5 square miles around Sugarloaf from the 1,200-square-mile Game Management Unit 29.
A petition with 500 signatures that made the same request in 2005 had no effect. A lawsuit filed in 2006 is still making its way through the courts.
"It's a message to the community that we've just had it," said Anita Moss, a 33-year resident of Sugarloaf who is leading the effort. "This is not OK."
Division of Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said there isn't a way to exclude a small area from a game management unit. The units cover the entire state, from National Forest and Bureau of Land Management holdings to private property.
She said the division believes it's safe to hunt in Sugarloaf.
"There have been no documented hunting conflicts there," she said. "We feel there's no reason not to allow hunting."
Susan Horner, an attorney for the residents who want hunting prohibited there, said the issue isn't whether hunting is good or bad but whether Boulder County can make its own rules about where it's appropriate.
State law allows the county to prohibit the discharge of firearms in designated areas, but it also carves out extensive exemptions for private property. In a 2005 letter to the Colorado Wildlife Commission, the Boulder County commissioners called the situation "a nightmare for enforcement" and asked the state to ban hunting in the area around Sugarloaf.
Cmdr. Rick Brough of the Boulder County Sheriff's Office said the department increases patrols of open space rangers during the hunting season, but the county ban has "no teeth."
Bill Jones, a Boulder-area hunter, said people hunt safely in areas more densely populated than Sugarloaf in New York and Pennsylvania, but Sugarloaf's location near the Denver metro area attracts some inexperienced hunters. He thinks some concerns are exaggerated, but others are justified.
"If I lived up there, I would be a little nervous," he said. "You have all these guys who didn't know anything about hunting before they went down to Sports Authority and got their rifle and their license on the same day."
Moss said the problem is "bad hunters" and "no enforcement."
She said hunters shoot from the road, with little apparent regard for houses, children or pets, and leave remains lying on the ground. Earlier this year, during the archery season, a lactating doe died in a neighbor's yard after being shot in the rump, she said.
"There are ethical hunters," she said. "But the deer here are so used to people from the density that it's like target shooting. This is not hunting. Real sportsmen look down their noses at this."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.