DENVER (KDVR) — Along the Front Range, the first signs of spring are beginning to appear. But in northwest Colorado, winter continues to hold strong. 

“I know technically we’re in spring, but unfortunately, winter just does not want to stop,” said Rachael Gonzales with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Gonzales said historic snowfall and relentless wind have led to an uncharacteristically high number of animal deaths in the region. 

“This winter’s been very difficult, so that good winter range is just not there,” she said. “We’re talking in some areas 30 inches of hard, crusted snow that animals really cannot get through.”

Gonzales said aerial surveys and collar data from deer are showing more animal deaths than usual, so the agency is responding. 

CPW is anticipating a 40% reduction in hunting licenses for rifle season in the Bears Ears and White River Data Analysis Unit, as well as pronghorn in the Great Divide DAU for the 2023 big game season. Muzzleloader and archery seasons will not be impacted.

“This is our step to protect that herd health,” Gonzales said.

The final numbers will be approved in May.