Many of you have noticed the “Hug a Hunter” ads taking over mobile devices and stretched across desktop displays.  And, like everyone else, you instinctively race for that little “x” in the corner, or patiently wait out the full-screen takeover version.  What probably never occurred to you is that these are part of an expensive PR campaign paid for by Coloradans with the purpose of extracting more money from outdoorsmen in the form of higher hunting and fishing license fees.

What did we pay for these commercials featuring dollar bills turning into trout and random people hugging a hunter in the woods?  Nearly $1 million per year.

Now this same agency, the Colorado Wildlife Commission, that brought us this genius marketing campaign to tell everyone about the great things that hunting fees do for Colorado wants the legislature to allow it to increase those fees 50%.  How convenient – using our tax dollars to ask for more of our tax dollars.

Perhaps Colorado Parks & Wildlife should look at tightening its belt before reaching out to hardworking Coloradans for more money.  With its 2,594 full time and temporary employees, if this agency was a stand alone organization, it would be well within the 50 largest employers in the state.  And there would be just a handful of private sector businesses ahead of them on that list.  Do they need to host 18 meetings across the state in a single year to collect input on how people feel about a fee increase?  Do they need to produce their own outdoors magazine to compete with an endless supply of websites and magazines that cater to the same audience?

And why must funding for this agency fall on the backs of hunters and fishermen?  Parks & Wildlife claims sportsmen “provide 80% of Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s funding for wildlife through hunting, fishing and recreational shooting.”  How about those “wildlife viewers,” which Parks & Wildlife absurdly claims add $2.3 billion to the state’s economy?

The bottom line is that there are a lot more people than hunters and fishermen taking advantage of the outdoors in our state, and the idea that this group needs to carry the water for everyone else is as dumb as those Hug a Hunter ads.