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Gov. Polis signs law to increase fines for wildlife violations

fishing-Conejos-River
Extremely low flows and concerns about water temperature prompts Colorado Parks and Wildlife to ask anglers to only fish the Conejos River in the morning.

DENVER – Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill that would double many wildlife fines in an effort to increase funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Polis signed House Bill 19-1026 on Monday. It would double fines for numerous violations and more than double existing fines for refusing to allow wildlife officers to view personal identification documents ($50 to $150) and illegally transporting or releasing native wildlife ($50 to $200).

It also changes how the money collected from fines is distributed across the state. Under the law, if a parks and wildlife officer were to fine someone, all of that money would go to “the fund administered by the division that is relevant to the type of violation committed.” Previously, the state treasurer was required to credit half of the money toward the general fund and half to the department or agency that employs the officer who issued the citation or to the division relevant to the violation that was committed.

The effort is part of a push to boost funding to Colorado Parks and Wildlife and to discourage illegal activity when it comes to wildlife.

General violations

  • Fines for violations for which there is not a statutory penalty listed increase from $50 to $100
  • The fine increases from $50 to $150 for refusing to allow an officer of the division or another peace officer to inspect personal identification documents, licenses, firearms, records, or wildlife and increases the fine from $50 to $100 for failing to void a license or carcass tag as required by the parks and wildlife commission
  • Operating a motor vehicle or vessel  and parking outside of designated areas, in excess of posted speed limits; parking in a manner that impedes the normal flow of traffic; leaving a motor vehicle or vessel unattended for more than 24 hours; or operating or parking a motor vehicle without having first purchased a required pass or permit will cost $100 compared to $50.

Hunting/Fishing violations

  • The fine increases from $50 to $100 for procuring or using multiple licenses of the same type, possessing live wildlife without a license, fishing without a license, and hunting without having obtained a hunter education certificate increases
  • The fines for unlawfully possessing fish, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians, or reptiles increases to $35 for each such animal taken or possessed at one time
  • Fines increase from $50 to $200 for unlawfully transporting, exporting, importing, or releasing native wildlife from $50 to $200;
  • Fines increase from $100 to $200 for hunting, trapping, or fishing on private property or for unlawfully posting on or otherwise indicating that public land is privately owned land
  • The fine is up from $100 to $200 for failing to make a reasonable attempt to locate big game that has been wounded
  • Fines for using wildlife as bait is up from $100 to $200
  • It will now cost $50 to $100 for not wearing fluorescent pink or daylight fluorescent orange garments while hunting elk, deer, pronghorn, moose, or black bear with a firearm
  • The fine for possessing a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle is up from $50 to $100
  • Shooting from a public road will now cost $100 compared to the old rate of $50
  • The fine for using division property in violation of any commission rule from $50 to $100
  • Luring a bear with food or edible waste is up from $100 to $200 for the first offense. For the second offense, it will be fined at $1,000 compared to $500 and it’s increased from $1,000 to $2,000 for the third offense

Boating violations

  • The fine for using or possessing a vessel that hasn’t been issued a number is up from $50 to $100
  • Violating personal watercraft equipment requirements will now be fined at $50 compared to $100
  • Fines for driving a vessel underage increased from $50 to $100
  • Fines are increased from $50 to $100 for operating a vessel that is not properly equipped, in excess of noise restrictions, above wakeless speed, in violation of any commission rule, or, with respect to personal watercraft only, between 1/2 hour after sunset and 1/2 hour before sunrise.
  • Operating a vessel in a careless manner will now cost $200 compared to the previous fine of $100
  • Waterskiing in a careless manner will cost $200 compared to the old fine of $100
  • Paddleboarding without a readily available personal flotation device will cost $100 compared to $50
  • Fines are now $100 for failing to wear a personal flotation device on water skis or similar devices, violating commission rules regarding the safe operation of water skis or similar devices, or violating commission rules prohibiting the use of single-chambered air-inflated devices on rivers or streams under certain conditions. The fines used to be $50

Snowmobile violations

  • Snowmobile violations are now $100 compared to the old rate of $50
  • Fines for operating a snowmobile carelessly are up from $100 to $200
  • Fines for Colorado residents that operate an unnumbered, unregistered off-highway vehicle are now $50 to $100. For nonresidents, it will cost $35 to $100 if the vehicle has been in Colorado for 30 days and a permit has not been issued.

ATV violations

  • Operating an off-highway vehicle in violation of road crossing restrictions will now cost $100 compared to the earlier fine of $50
  • Fines are increasing from $50 to $100 for operating an off-highway vehicle without a permit
  • Unlawful camping will now be fined at $100 compared to $50 if the person is camping in an area located in a  state park or state recreation area that is not designated for camping and adds a fine in an amount equal to 5 times the cost of a permit for a campsite if the person is camping at a campsite without having obtained a valid permit

According to the legislation, the last time citation fees were increased was in 2003. The new fines go into effect on July 1.

Tom Kackley

Tom Kackley

Tom Kackley is a digital content producer at KOAA News 5. He has worked in southern Colorado since 2016.
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